Western Region Marketing Board

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The Western Region Marketing Board was a statutory corporation established in 1954 as part of a political restructuring that expanded the administrative capacities of the Nigerian regions. The regional boards replaced the Nigerian commodity boards established in the late 1940s with new regionally focused boards. The 1954 boards were charged with the buying and distribution of export produce from their respective regions, to transport it to the ports for sale and also to develop the cash crop industry in their regions. These boards became a dominant economic system in the Nigerian economy controlling 63% of the foreign exchange earned by the country in 1961. The regional marketing system created monopsonies as the boards were the only authorized commodity buyers of Cocoa, Groundnut, Palm and Cotton in the 1950s and 1960s, this system was replaced in 1977. In Southern Nigerian, the boards expanded their stabilisation role of acting as trustees for the farmers to taxing the producers income to fund government programmes.

History

The Western Region Marketing Board took over the reins of the Nigeria Cocoa Marketing Board created in 1947 and became the single seller of Cocoa from Nigeria. The board was also involved in selling Palm Kernels and in funding agricultural research and development and extension services. The board's initial major role was to act as a stabilizing force in the Cocoa industry, this role was a relic of the Nigerian Cocoa marketing board but the marketing board evolved later to become a major source of government saving used for the financing of government sponsored projects, to purchase equity and offer loans to private companies, the latter situation later generated some controversy and allegations of corruption in the 1960s in respect to some investments in the National Investment Property Company and a few others.

Much of the stabilization role was performed by buying cocoa and palm kernels from producers at a fixed price usually below market price and selling it in the international market. The surplus is saved as a reserve to supplement future shortfall in producer incomes as a result of declining prices. However, prior to the formation of the regional marketing board, the Cocoa prices in the international market was undergoing a bullish phase leading to allegations of a cartel against the British and stability was ensured by a fixed rate in an upward market price trend. From the mid 1950s to the early 1960s, cocoa prices fell and this stability system became less rigid and prone to price fluctuations in a downward price trend. However, the Western Region Marketing Board was still able to fix prices below the international cocoa price and generate surplus which was later used to finance some of the investments of the Western Region Finance Corporation, Western Nigeria Development Corporation and agricultural R/D. The board also earned income from investments in securities. Between 1955-1960, the Western region planned a capital disbursement of 20 million pounds taken from the board to finance developmental purposes and another 21 million pounds was planned between 1960-1965.

The marketing board inherited the license buying system where by it gives licenses (LBA) to traders with a predetermined minimum capital to purchase produce from farmers.