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Karin Wedig

The revival of agricultural cooperatives in sub-Saharan Africa led to a renewed interest in the potential contribution of Producer Organizations (POs) to inclusive rural development. This chapter presents survey and qualitative data from Uganda’s coffee sector to illuminate the organizational responses of cooperatives to small farmers’ economic constraints in the region’s liberalized agricultural markets. Some organizations are able to grow while simultaneously advancing the equitable distribution of benefits among members based on more democratic organizational structures. These POs achieve reduced defection rates and expanded membership numbers by maintaining secondary organizational structures, which allow disadvantaged members, including women and particularly poor farmers, to better represent their interests against local elite capture of resources. The results from Uganda indicate that although high levels of social capital in community-based organizations may support the establishment of economically viable POs, extensive control by local elites of core governance structures tends to weaken equitable organizational development.