This chapter argues that farmer collective action in developing countries is in a process of transformation. While traditional farmer organizations and cooperatives had social, political and economic functions, the new producer organizations (POs) are mainly focusing on improving the market access of their members. Providing market information, establishing quality control systems and improving logistics are some of the main functions of the new POs. As POs come in many kinds and sizes, the chapter first presents a typology, particularly distinguishing between market-oriented business organizations and other rural membership organizations. This chapter reviews the literature on the role of POs in vertical coordination, contracting and market access. Finally, it discusses the effects of the assumed transformation process on the inclusiveness of the organization, on the efficiency of the internal governance, and on strengthening member relations.
Jos Bijman, Roldan Muradian and Jur Schuurman
This synthesis chapter discusses the issues that are at the core of the academic discourse on the transformation of cooperatives in developing countries. The first is about inclusion or exclusion of particular groups of farmers. This issue has gained significance because cooperatives-as-businesses are more likely to be selective in allowing farmers to become members. The second issue relates to the inherent tensions in cooperatives and how these are affected by the transformation process. For instance, the classical trade-off between equity and efficiency seems to become more pronounced when cooperatives focus on economic functions and entrepreneurial activities. The third issue is about the institutional environment of the cooperative and what conditions determine the type and extent of support from governments, NGOs and other facilitating organizations. The chapter ends with suggestions for further research on cooperatives and POs in developing countries.