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Smallholder Farmers and Collective Action: What Determines the Intensity of Participation?


  • Elisabeth Fischer
  • Matin Qaim


type="main" xml:id="jage12060-abs-0001"> Collective action through farmer groups can be an important strategy for smallholders to remain competitive in rapidly changing markets. Previous research has analysed determinants of farmer participation in groups, equating participation with group membership. However, within groups the commitment of members can vary, as marginal benefits and costs are not the same for all individuals, and opportunities to free-ride exist. Low participation in collective activities may reduce the ability of groups to provide useful services to its members. This article investigates determinants of member participation intensity, using the example of farmer groups in Kenya. The role of individual and group characteristics is analysed with survey data and regression models. Previous benefits that members received through the group positively influence their intensity of participation in group meetings and collective marketing, suggesting that reciprocity motives play a role. Low participation can mostly be attributed to structural and institutional conditions, such as group size and the timing of payments for collective product sales. More diversified farmers are less likely to sell collectively when group marketing activities only concentrate on one particular commodity. Since smallholders are often highly diversified, the focus of farmer groups should also be broadened. Further policy implications are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisabeth Fischer & Matin Qaim, 2014. "Smallholder Farmers and Collective Action: What Determines the Intensity of Participation?," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(3), pages 683-702, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jageco:v:65:y:2014:i:3:p:683-702

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    1. Tadesse, G. & Badiane, O., 2018. "The Boundary of Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives in Africa: A Conceptual framework and empirical evidence from Ethiopia," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 276964, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Delelegne Abera Tefera & Jos Bijman & Maja Slingerland & Gerben Velde & Onno Omta, 2020. "Quality Improvement in African Food Supply Chains: Determinants of Farmer Performance," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 32(1), pages 152-175, January.
    3. Sibiko, Kenneth W. & Veettil, Prakashan C. & Qaim, Matin, 2016. "Small Farmers’ Preferences for Weather Index Insurance: Insights from Kenya," 2016 Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 246399, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    4. De Noni, Ivan & Orsi, Luigi & Corsi, Stefano, 2017. "The Collective Action as Potential Driver of Bottom-up Reconfiguration from Captive to Relational Value Chain. The Case Study of the Northern District in Sierra Leone," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 8(4), October.
    5. Smaïl Amghrous & Damien Rousselière, 2019. "L’implication des agriculteurs dans les coopératives dans un pays en transition vers une économie de marché : Une application aux coopératives agricoles de services algériennes," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 31(4), pages 724-749, September.
    6. Hao, Jinghui & Heerink, Nico & Heijman, Wim & Bijman, Jos, 2017. "Cooperatives Membership And Smallholder Farmers’ Welfare - Evidence From Shaanxi And Shandong Provinces, China," 2017 International Congress, August 28-September 1, 2017, Parma, Italy 260914, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Gezahegn, T.W. & Maertens, M., 2018. "Economic Incentives for Collective Action in Agriculture: Evidence from Agricultural Co-operatives in Tigray, North Ethiopia," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277137, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Uttam Khanal & Clevo Wilson & Viet-Ngu Hoang & Boon Lee, 2019. "Impact of community-based organizations on climate change adaptation in agriculture: empirical evidence from Nepal," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 621-635, April.
    9. Daniel Micheal Okello & Jackline Bonabana-Wabbi & Basil Mugonola, 2019. "Farm level allocative efficiency of rice production in Gulu and Amuru districts, Northern Uganda," Agricultural and Food Economics, Springer;Italian Society of Agricultural Economics (SIDEA), vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, December.
    10. Tsegaye T. Gatiso, 2019. "Households’ dependence on community forest and their contribution to participatory forest management: evidence from rural Ethiopia," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 181-197, February.
    11. Bobojonov, Ihtiyor & Teuber, Ramona & Hasanov, Shavkat & Urutyan, Vardan & Glauben, Thomas, 2016. "Farmers’ export market participation decisions in transition economies: a comparative study between Armenia and Uzbekistan," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 25-35.
    12. Ellen Verhofstadt & Miet Maertens, 2014. "Smallholder cooperatives and agricultural performance in Rwanda: do organizational differences matter?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 45(S1), pages 39-52, November.
    13. Saint Ville, Arlette S. & Hickey, Gordon M. & Phillip, Leroy E., 2017. "How do stakeholder interactions influence national food security policy in the Caribbean? The case of Saint Lucia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 53-64.
    14. Jan Falkowski & Pavel Ciaian, 2016. "Factors Supporting the Development of Producer Organizations and their Impacts in the Light of Ongoing Changes in Food Supply Chains: A Literature Review," JRC Working Papers JRC101617, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    15. Wambua, Dennis Kyalo, 2017. "Influence Of Social Capital And Networks On Marketing Performance Of Smallholder Grain Farmer Groups In Tharaka North And Tharaka South Sub-Counties, Kenya," Research Theses 276430, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    16. Nthambi, Mary & Wätzold, Frank & Markova-Nenova, Nonka, 2018. "Quantifying benefit losses from poor governance of climate change adaptation projects: A discrete choice experiment with farmers in Kenya," MPRA Paper 94678, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Larochelle, Catherine & Alwang, Jeffrey, 2015. "Explaining Marketing Strategies among Bolivian Potato Farmers," Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture, Humboldt-Universitaat zu Berlin, vol. 54(3), pages 1-24, September.
    18. Jasper GRASHUIS & Ye SU, 2019. "A Review Of The Empirical Literature On Farmer Cooperatives: Performance, Ownership And Governance, Finance, And Member Attitude," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 90(1), pages 77-102, March.
    19. Filippa Pyk & Assem Abu Hatab, 2018. "Fairtrade and Sustainability: Motivations for Fairtrade Certification among Smallholder Coffee Growers in Tanzania," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(5), pages 1-18, May.

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