First, let’s look at an example of the theory of farmer cooperative put into practice in Huye, Rawanda a far cry from our own bountiful if somewhat benighted north coast region of golden California. We’ll provide a series of links below to the academic, theoretical research, but it’s often good when climbing the ivory towers to remember how and why what they’re talking about plays out on broken ground.
HUYE – IN traditional society some stereotypes and myths prevented many Rwandans from eating mushrooms. One of the theories, which was probably the most widely spread prohibited livestock farmers from eating them. According to the theory, eating mushrooms would result in the death of cows which were regarded as a sign of wealth in the Rwandan culture. Little did people know that mushrooms were rich in nutrients and offered a variety of health benefits.
In such conditions, it was difficult for anyone to venture into the cultivation of the crop. Fast forward 2012, mushrooms are appreciated in many households. They are used to make soups, salads, and sandwiches among other things. The demand has forced many people to venture in commercial mushroom growing. Among those are members of Abaruhuje cooperative, a 24 members group based in Ngoma sector, Huye district. The cooperative started mushroom growing in 2009 to improve the welfare of its members and their families.
According to Marthe Bakayihinda, its representative, mushroom growing has significantly boosted their revenues and nutrient ration in their respective homes. Bakayihinda says growing mushrooms “is an easy activity which does not require much investment. “Mushrooms can be grown on a small plot of land and still generate much revenue for the farmer,” Bakayihinda says. “Only eight days after planting, you can harvest…and the productivity is high,” she added.
On one square metre plot, the harvest can surpass 64 kilogrammes and this goes on for three months after which the seeds are replaced, according to the farmer. But, this will depend on how well a farmer has monitored the crops, she says. “This activity is a potential source of revenue for families,” Bakayihinda notes, as she encourages others to venture into it. The woman disclosed that her cooperative is moving from the cultivation of the mushrooms to producing quality seeds for other willing farmers to access them easily. “We have decided to invest more in this area as we have realised it is a productive venture,” she says.
And, Abaruhuje cooperative wants other farmers to venture into mushroom growing. “We want to train other farmers in modern methods of growing mushrooms for them to improve their wellbeing,” Bakayihinda notes. Mushroom growing remains largely untapped, and still offers opportunity to generate income. According to the farmers, the market demand is still high.
“Local people have started realising the health benefits from eating mushrooms and this is an important market for the produce,” Bakayihinda says, citing other farmers’ cooperatives, hotels and restaurants, among other clients.
With all due respect to the people and the nation of Rawanda, compare their situation in comparison to ours; the relative accessibility of both private and public capital, technical resources, communicatoins and transportation, rule of law etc. If they can do this so can we. And, given our access to the almost overwhelming wealth of information available on the internet, I’ve taken the position here that my job is to winnow that information down on this site to provide the membership with not everythin that there is to know, but a sufficent set of references to enable anyone toboth draw their own conclusions and, for those truly comitted to making this happen, sufficent guidance from experts,on the ground and in the towers of academia that we can do so with the best information available.
From a Research Report by John M. Staatz titled ’Farmer Cooperative Theory: Recent Developments,” prepared for the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development Business and Cooperative Programs, we repost below the abstract and a list of further research that references this paper. Just as we have prepared a survey of the mycological literature as it applies to our Cooperative this is the first in a series of articles here intended to provide a firm understanding of academic work on the subject of Farmers Cooperatives; their governance, successes and failures and examinations of various examples from the experiences of folks who have walked this path before us.
Abstract: Since 1980, agricultural economists have begun to reexamine fundamental issues in the theory of agricultural cooperation. These include the basic nature of farmer cooperation; the theoretical benefits and limits of cooperative enterprise; and the implications of these for cooperative members, managers, and public policy. Analysts have extended previous models of the cooperative as a type of business firm in order to analyze the impact of large cooperatives on market performance. They have also developed new models to analyze how cooperatives attempt to serve the divergent interests of different participants, such as managers and different classes of farmers. This report describes and evaluates recent theoretical developments, outlines remaining areas of conflict and gaps in the theory of agricultural cooperation, and discusses topics for future research. It concludes that one of the most promising areas for current research may be in testing hypothesis arising from current theoretical work.
- Imre Ferto & Gabor G. Szabo, 2002. “Vertical Co-ordanitaion in Transition Agriculture: a Hungarian Cooperative Case Study,” IEHAS Discussion Papers 0210, Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
- Russo, Carlo & Weatherspoon, Dave D. & Peterson, H. Christopher & Sabbatini, Massimo, 1999. “Effects Of Managers’ Power On Capital Structure: A Study On Italian Agricultural Cooperatives,” Staff Papers 11753, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
- Shannon Sutton, 2012. “Add Producers and Stir? (Re) politicizing Fairtrade participation,” Working Papers 38, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
- Peter Österberg & Jerker Nilsson, 2009. “Members’ perception of their participation in the governance of cooperatives: the key to trust and commitment in agricultural cooperatives,” Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 181-197.
- Ebneth, Oliver & Theuvsen, Ludwig, 2005. “Internationalization and Corporate Success – Empirical Evidence from the European Dairy Sector,” 2005 International Congress, August 23-27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark 24750, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
- Royer, Jeffrey S., 1991. “A Comparative Financial Ratio Analysis of U.S. Farmer Cooperatives Using Nonparametric Statistics,” Journal of Agricultural Cooperation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, vol. 6.
- Zvi Lerman & Claudia Parliament, 1990. “Comparative performance of cooperatives and investor-owned firms in US food industries,”Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(6), pages 527-540.
- Schmid, A. Allan, 2002. “The Spartan School Of Institutional Economics At Michigan State University,” Staff Papers 11596, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
- Lerman, Zvi & Parliament, Claudia, 1991. “Financing Of Growth In Agricultural Cooperatives,” Staff Papers 13410, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
- Mensah, Edouard R. & Karantininis, Kostas & Adegbidi, Anselme & Okello, Julius Juma, 2012. “Determinants of Commitment to Agricultural Cooperatives: Cashew Nuts Farmers in Benin,” 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 125946, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
- Staatz, John M., 1994. “A Comment on Phillips’ “Economic Nature of the Cooperative Association”,” Journal of Agricultural Cooperation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, vol. 9.
- Russo, Carlo & Weatherspoon, Dave D. & Peterson, H. Christopher & Sabbatini, Massimo, 2000. “Effects Of Managers’ Power On Capital Structure: A Study Of Italian Agricultural Cooperatives,” International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), vol. 3(01).
- Puaha, Hubertus & Tilley, Daniel S., 2002. “Coalition Development In The Agricultural Marketing System,” 2002 Annual meeting, July 28-31, Long Beach, CA 19721, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
- Puaha, Hubertus & Tilley, Daniel S., 2003. “Investment Decisions In New Generation Cooperatives: A Case Study Of Value Added Products (Vap) Cooperative In Alva, Oklahoma,” 2003 Annual Meeting, February 1-5, 2003, Mobile, Alabama 35069, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
- Lerman, Zvi & Parliament, Claudia, 1990. “Comparative Performance Of Food-Processing Cooperatives And Investor-Owned Firms,” Staff Papers 13455, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
- Gabor G. Szabo & Krisztina Bardos, 2005. “Vertical Coordination by Contracts in Agribusiness – An Empirical Research in the Hungarian Dairy Sector,” IEHAS Discussion Papers 0515, Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
- Parliament, Claudia & Lerman, Zvi, 1993. “Risk and Equity in Agricultural Cooperatives,” Journal of Agricultural Cooperation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, vol. 8.
- Royer, Jeffrey S. & Bhuyan, Sanjib, 1993. “Formula Price Contracts as an Alternative to Forward Integration by Farmer Cooperatives,”Journal of Agricultural Cooperation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, vol. 8.
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