Cooperatives, Economic Democratization and Rural Development
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Cooperatives, Economic Democratization and Rural Development

Edited by Jos Bijman, Roldan Muradian and Jur Schuurman

Agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations are institutional innovations which have the potential to reduce poverty and improve food security. This book presents a raft of international case studies, from developing and transition countries, to analyse the internal and external challenges that these complex organizations face and the solutions that they have developed. The contributors provide a greater understanding of the transformation of traditional community organizations into modern farmer-owned businesses. They cover issues including: the impact on rural development and inclusiveness, the role of social capital, formal versus informal organizations, democratic participation and member relations, and their role in value chains.
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Chapter 7: Towards inclusive rural development? Effects of governance on economic equality in Uganda’s coffee cooperatives

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.

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