Agricultural Cooperatives and Rural Development: Case Studies

Start date: 18 April, 2012 End date: 29 June, 2012 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A16979 Countries: Kenya Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Marco Rogna Total grant: 13,000 DKK


The important role played by agricultural cooperatives in fostering rural development in advanced economies during, and after, the industrialization period is now well recognized. For this reason, the cooperative model has been seen as an effective and equitable way of improving conditions of smallholders in developing countries. Results, however, have been contradictory and, often, unsatisfying, generating the need of understanding the causes of this failure. The present paper, adopting a comparative, case-study approach, tries to evaluate if agricultural cooperatives are effectively advantaging smallholders compared with other business models. In particular, through the observation of some dairy and coffee societies in the Central province of Kenya, it examines if cooperative members are able to generate income in a more efficient way and if they experience a less inhomogeneous distribution of income.
Furthermore, it investigates the contribution of this model to community development, looking if cooperatives are actually implementing activities that are beneficial for the whole community or if they act mainly for the exclusive benefit of their members. Finally, it analyses if the presence of better-off farmers among members of a cooperative society constitutes an important element able to foster its performances. The last chapter is dedicated to discuss some of the main problems evidenced in the literature as peculiar of the cooperative model,
stressing how the conditions of a developing country context influence them and which are the solutions adopted by the observed societies.