The Marketing of the Fruit and Seeds of Ogbonno (Irvingia Gabonensis)

There is a considerable amount of information on the markets for Irvingia gabonensis in southern Nigeria. In some areas there is such high demand for this product that it has become a luxury item. Its major market is in rural southern Nigeria. Marketing of Irvingia sp. involves producers (principally men), processors (principally women), and wholesale and retail traders (generally women). The Department of Forest Resource Management (1986) notes that market prices are usually controlled by wholesale traders, but that for distant markets retail traders have greater control over prices. Households are reported to devote, on average, between 2% and 5% of their annual expenditure on Irvingia products. It is estimated that there is a demand for 78.8 million kilogrammes of Irvingia sp. per year; and that 80% of this demand is in the southern parts of Nigeria. The consumption of Irvingia gabonensis seeds is limited by supply, and in urban areas, by high prices (Department of Forest Resource Management, Nigeria 1986).

Agbor (1986) conducted an extensive study of I. gabonensis marketing and production. There are two varieties of Irvingia sp., one produces a sweet fruit and is generally consumed raw, the other is a bitter variety exploited for its seed. Agbor found that there was a greater demand for the bitter variety. The prices for seeds and fruit were lower in the rainy season, and in all cases considerably more expensive in non-producing districts. He found that there was great variation in the density of trees in different southern districts ranging from an average 87 trees per farmer in Ogoja district to an average two trees per farmer in Ikono district. Tree density corresponded to variations in land availability: higher tree densities reflected less land pressure. I. gabonensis provided an important source of income for many farmers (see also Section 5.3).

In southwestern Cameroon, I. gabonensis fruit and seed are also commonly marketed. In the Korup region they are often gathered, dried and sold to Nigerian traders or taken to Nigerian markets (where one bucket fetches approximately FCFA 10,000) (Gartlan 1987, Department of Forest Resource Management 1986).

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