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South Africa’s new Cooperatives Act: A missed opportunity for small farmers and land reform beneficiaries


  • Lyne, Michael C.
  • Collins, Ray


Agricultural cooperatives are often viewed as appropriate vehicles to facilitate vertical coordination with, or horizontal integration between, small farmers who would otherwise be excluded from value-adding opportunities and discerning markets. In South Africa, renewed interest in development-oriented cooperatives saw the introduction of a new Cooperatives Act in 2005, along with support measures dedicated to ‘emerging’ cooperatives. This paper contends that the architects of the new Act discounted important trends in international legislation that would have made development-oriented cooperatives more versatile and given their members better access to capital and expertise through equity partnerships with private agribusiness firms. It is concluded that the new Act should be amended to admit non-patron investors as members, and to allow for non-redeemable and hence appreciable and tradable shares. Such innovations are emerging internationally, usually with a cap on non-patron voting power.

Suggested Citation

  • Lyne, Michael C. & Collins, Ray, 2008. "South Africa’s new Cooperatives Act: A missed opportunity for small farmers and land reform beneficiaries," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 47(2), June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:agreko:37551

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hendrikse, George W. J. & Veerman, Cees P., 2001. "Marketing cooperatives and financial structure: a transaction costs economics analysis," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 26(3), pages 205-216, December.
    2. Royer, Jeffrey S., 1999. "Cooperative Organizational Strategies: A Neo-Institutional Digest," Journal of Cooperatives, NCERA-210, vol. 14.
    3. Ortmann, Gerald F. & King, Robert P., 2006. "Small-Scale Farmers in South Africa: Can Agricultural Cooperatives Facilitate Access to Input and Product Markets?," Staff Papers 13930, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    4. Harris, Andrea & Stefanson, Brenda & Fulton, Murray E., 1996. "New Generation Cooperatives and Cooperative Theory," Journal of Cooperatives, NCERA-210, vol. 11.
    5. Michael E. Sykuta & Michael L. Cook, 2001. "A New Institutional Economics Approach to Contracts and Cooperatives," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1273-1279.
    6. Porter, Philip K & Scully, Gerald W, 1987. "Economic Efficiency in Cooperatives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 489-512, October.
    7. Hendrikse, George W.J. & Veerman, Cees P., 2001. "Marketing cooperatives and financial structure: a transaction costs economics analysis," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 26(3), December.
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