Collective marketing has appeared as an issue in nearly all countries. Smallholder farmers are (per definition) scattered and need to bulk their products in order to have access to (urban) markets. Bulking can be done through different value chain and agents, like agents and traders, processing companies, state marketing boards or collective marketing arrangements. These different modalities of sourcing compete in offering their services to farmers. In view of this competition, farmers’ organizations involved in collective marketing will faces challenges, related with 1) the logistic efficiency of providing these services; and 2) the organization and governance of the arrangement. Successful collective marketing experiences have resolved both challenges by organizing and fine-tuning their internal management and transaction modalities with members and non-members e.g. related with pricing, payments, and quantity or quality requirements. The research will focus on the incentive structures (e.g. internal rules, contract conditions, control systems) that have developed in their transaction with the farmers and that have proven effective and feasible in the prevailing market conditions. The comparative research will review existing studies, and select several successful experiences for more detailed case-study research. As these best practices are always context specific (e.g. type of commodities, supporting institutions, scale of the organization, etc.), a comparative framework will be used that make these conditions explicit.
An ESFIM-research Brief has been complied with ten ‘common tensions’ (agency dilemmas) in collective marketing (Annex IV). Based on these tensions, case-study evidence is collected to be used in an on-line tool to exchange experiences. The ESFIM brief has been translated in Spanish and forms the conceptual outline of the systemizing of experiences in Uruguay and Peru. It has also been used in an AGRIPROFOCUS activity to identify good practices in Uganda.
These tensions are: ‘Regulating Member Supply’, Quality Assurance Systems’, ‘Coping with Working Capital Constraints’, ‘Anticipating Side-Selling’, ‘Ways to Dispose of Profits’, ‘Free-riding on Member Investments’, ‘Different Risk Preferences and Time Horizons’, ‘Supervision of Professional Staff’, ‘Individual Liability for Group Actions’, and ‘Managing Political Aspirations’.
Currently by desk-research and the incorporation of student groups form Wageningen University, case-study documentation is collected. An on-line tool will facilitate the exchange of related internal regulations, contracts and other technical details. Currently, the architecture of such an on-line tool is being explored with the design bureau of the ESFIM web-site.
With ILO-CoopAfrica, this emphasis on agency dilemmas in collective marketing will be (partly) incorporated in the revised training material used by ILO-training centre and CoopAfrica, formerly known as MATCOM. KIT (subcontracted by ILO), WUR, Agriterra and ILO will discuss a revised version in January 2011. A new ILO-cooperative training site will link to the ESFIM web-site.
Case-studies on organisational intelligence of economic farmer organisations in Bolivia
In 2011, 38 economic farmer organisations have been studied to describe the rules and regulations that they implemented to resolve the tension between the interest of the group and the interest of the individual member when engaged in collective marketing. In 2013, 28 of these organisations could be visited again, and changes in their governance have been analysed. The research is published as Chapter 8 in the book:
- Giel Ton (2015) Measuring Tension and Intensions: Mixing methods in the impact evaluation of development support to farmer organisations.
This chapter has been revised and shortened in the Journal of Development Effectiveness, DOI 10.1080/19439342.2016.1231702
- Giel Ton (2016). Contribution Analysis of a Bolivian innovation grant fund: Mixing methods to verify relevance, effictiveness.
The case summaries are available here as supplemental material – annex-supplementary-material