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Which type of producer organization is (more) inclusive? Dynamics of farmers’ membership and participation in the decision‐making process

Mercy Mwambi, Jos Bijman and Patience Mshenga

Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 2020, vol. 91, issue 2, 213-236

Abstract: Producer organizations (POs) provide benefits to smallholders by alleviating market access challenges. However, whether all farmers benefit from a PO is still a question. Limited evidence is available on whether POs are inclusive of poor farmers. Even if the poor join, do they participate in decision‐making? We conducted interviews with 595 smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya. We distinguish three groups; members of a bargaining PO, members of a processing PO and non‐members. We show that membership is related to the structural characteristics of the organization: processing POs favor membership of farmers that are wealthier, more educated and more innovative. As to participation in the decision‐making process: older, male and specialized farmers have a higher chance of being involved than poor farmers. Factors distinguishing farmer participation in decision‐making between bargaining and processing POs are highlighted. We find that a bargaining PO is more inclusive of all groups of farmers, while women and poor farmers are excluded from decision‐making in a processing PO. Our findings contribute to policymaking on inclusive development.

Date: 2020
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