During recent years—coinciding with a higher interest for the social and solidarity economy—there has been a resurgence of policy and academic attention in how agricultural cooperatives can foster rural economic development. Collective enterprises can play a role in coordinating activities between different value chain actors and in enabling access to new markets by vulnerable rural dwellers. The objectives of this paper are twofold. First, it aims to systematize the evidence about the impacts of agricultural cooperatives in rural areas in developing countries. The impact indicators to be considered are primarily in the realms of productive systems and poverty. Second, it aims to revise the theory of farmers’ collective action, building on the accumulated evidence. The theoretical development emphasizes (i) the mechanisms through which farmers’ groups induce development impacts; and (ii) the social dynamics underpinning the “quality” of collective action.
Roldan Muradian is Senior Researcher in the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies of Radboud University Nijmegen. His research interests cover a wide range of issues, from collective action and rural development to environmental governance. His current research projects are taking place in Africa and Latin America.