Marketing cooperative vs. commission agent: The Turkish dilemma on the modern fresh fruit and vegetable market
In Turkey, the Wholesale Markets Law was enacted in 1995 to facilitate small-scale growers' access to the fresh produce market. Cooperatives and commission agents have thus become the main marketing structures available to small-scale fresh produce growers, to supply supermarkets and comply with their new requirements. In this paper, we question the advantages and disadvantages that confront small farmers with respect to those marketing structures to allow for market matching or quality upgrading. Drawing on ownership and transaction cost arguments, we use an analytical framework to identify and compare the costs of these marketing organizations. Based on data collected through a large number of interviews with stakeholders, we show that commission agents and credit cooperatives tend to be more efficient than traditional cooperatives as regards sales performance and decision costs. However, the lack of apparent competition between commission agents does not allow for sufficient provision of incentives for producers to invest in high-quality production. Consequently, credit cooperatives are the only structure progressively turning to strategies of quality upgrading and supermarket supply. The flipside of such strategies is that they may lead to the marginalization of small-scale farmers.
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