Reaching the rural poor through rural producer organizations? A study of agricultural marketing cooperatives in Ethiopia
This paper examines the notion of inclusiveness in rural producer organizations (RPOs) and the extent to which such RPOs can be used to reach the rural poor in sub-Saharan Africa. Using farmer cooperatives in Ethiopia as a case in point, the paper examines the role of RPOs in supporting smallholder commercialization, and the extent to which principles of an inclusive, bottom-up approach relate to their marketing performance. Based on a combination of nationally-representative household- and cooperative-level survey data, we find that poorer farmers tend not to participate in these organizations although they may indirectly benefit from them. When they do participate, they are often excluded from decision-making processes. Finally, we investigate the relationship between marketing performance and inclusiveness and uncover evidence of significant tradeoffs between them.
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