Private Service Providers: Preferred by Smallholders

Farmer Co-operatives

Echoes from our Network: Conservation Agriculture in Areas with High Rainfall

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Conservation Agriculture in Areas with High Rainfall

We recently learned of correspondence among several network members on the topic of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in areas of heavy rain. The information seemed potentially helpful for others in ECHO’s network, so we are sharing it here.

Farmer Co-operatives

David Headley, MBA

This article will focus on the benefits of co-ops operating by and for small-scale farmers in rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The most basic definition of a co-op is local farmers pooling their resources to improve the means of acquiring products essential to farming, as well as expanding market opportunities. The objective of a co-op is to increase a farmer’s net income through expanded access to new markets and credit. However, in order for this to be successful, the group of farmers must decide on several factors: governance (who the elected committee will be), ownership (how to manage the co-op), self-regulation (a set of rules agreed upon by members) and accountability (to other members).

Private Service Providers: Preferred by Smallholders

RL Tinsley, Professor Emeritus, Colorado State University

Like all farmers, smallholder farmers require support services to provide production inputs, to market surplus production and to contribute other services like contract mechanization (for land preparation, post-harvest processing, initial value added), credit, etc. Within smallholder agriculture communities private service providers (PSPs) normally provide these essential support services that, if forced to be undertaken individually, would distract from the primary economic activity of crop and animal husbandry. These PSPs are part of the well-recognized and promoted Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) system. Frequently, they may be more accurately referred to as the Family Enterprise System (FES). Such PSPs are usually indigenous to the communities they serve, and often represent former farmers who have drifted out of farming to become supporting service providers to their neighbors. These businesses are frequently owned and operated by women, and often have such a limited market volume they operate near the poverty level. 


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