Keywords: rural producer organisations, farmer cooperatives, rural governance, Ethiopia, local governance, smallholder cooperatives, poverty reduction, on-farm productivity, small-scale farmers, national development strategy, small farms
Local governance systems and smallholder cooperatives in Ethiopia
There is ample evidence to suggest that improving the on-farm productivity of small-scale farmers and integrating them into commercial markets is a promising strategy for alleviating poverty and leveraging agriculture as an engine of wider economic growth. Yet, persistent market failures in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa have limited the impact of this strategy. As a result, there is increasing interest in the study of state and community failures – the underlying rural governance issues – that affect small-scale farmers. This paper contributes to this area of inquiry by examining the role of farmers' cooperatives in local governance systems in Ethiopia. By drawing on both qualitative and quantitative data sources, the paper offers new insights into the potential role of rural governance systems in national development strategies, the interactions between formal and informal rural governance systems, and possible avenues through which farmers' cooperatives can contribute to improving rural governance and national development.