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Farmer organization, collective action and market access in Meso-America

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  • Hellin, Jon
  • Lundy, Mark
  • Meijer, Madelon

Abstract

Farmer organization and collective action are often seen as key factors in enhancing farmers' access to markets. Often, too little attention is directed at (a) the most appropriate types of organization; (b) whether organization makes less or more sense in the case of producers of an undifferentiated commodity or a higher value product; (c) whether the public or private sector is best placed to support farmer organizations; and (d) the conditions necessary for ensuring their economic viability. Research in Mexico and Central America explored these issues for commodity maize and high value vegetables, respectively. The benefits of farmer organization are more evident in the vegetable sector, characterized by high transaction costs associated with market access. However, horticultural farmer organizations in Honduras and El Salvador include less than 5% of total horticultural producers. This is possibly due to farmer organizations' limited business skills and non-replicable organizational models. There is less incentive for maize farmers to organize to access output markets as the transaction costs are relatively low. The benefits of maize farmer organization are clearer when it comes to accessing inputs such as credit, seed and fertilizer. Farmer organization is a critical factor in making markets work for the poor, but the role and timing of public and private investment in these organizations is poorly understood.

Suggested Citation

  • Hellin, Jon & Lundy, Mark & Meijer, Madelon, 2009. "Farmer organization, collective action and market access in Meso-America," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 16-22, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:1:p:16-22
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael Boehlje, 1999. "Structural Changes in the Agricultural Industries: How Do We Measure, Analyze and Understand Them?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1028-1041.
    2. Masakure, Oliver & Henson, Spencer, 2005. "Why do small-scale producers choose to produce under contract? Lessons from nontraditional vegetable exports from Zimbabwe," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1721-1733, October.
    3. Hulme, David & Shepherd, Andrew, 2003. "Conceptualizing Chronic Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 403-423, March.
    4. Prabhu Pingali & Yasmeen Khwaja & Madelon Meijer, 2005. "Commercializing Small Farms: Reducing Transaction Costs," Working Papers 05-08, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
    5. Key, Nigel & Runsten, David, 1999. "Contract Farming, Smallholders, and Rural Development in Latin America: The Organization of Agroprocessing Firms and the Scale of Outgrower Production," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 381-401, February.
    6. Narayanan, Sudha & Gulati, Ashok, 2002. "Globalization and the smallholders," MTID discussion papers 50, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    7. Hellin, Jon & Lundy, Mark & Meijer, Madelon, 2007. "Farmer organization, collective action and market access in Meso-America:," CAPRi working papers 67, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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