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Privatisation, empowerment and accountability: What are the policy implications for establishing effective farmer organisations?

Mbeche, R. M. and Dorward, P. (2014) Privatisation, empowerment and accountability: What are the policy implications for establishing effective farmer organisations? Land Use Policy, 36. pp. 285-295. ISSN 0264-8377

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2013.08.014


Weak institutional development and information flows have constrained the extent to which the small-holder farming sector in developing countries can significantly drive growth and poverty reduction. Thisis despite widely implemented economic liberalisation policies focussing on market efficiency. Farmerorganisations are viewed as a potential means of addressing public and private institutional failure but thishas frequently been limited by inequalities in access to power and information. This article investigatestwo issues that have received little research attention to date: what role downward accountability plays inenabling farmer organisations to improve services and markets, and what influences the extent to whichdownward accountability is achieved. Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), one of the largest farmerorganisations in the world (>400,000 farmers) is examined alongside wider literature. Mixed methodswere used including key informant interviews, and eight months of participant observation followedby a questionnaire survey. The article concludes that without effective downward accountability farmerorganisations can become characterised by institutions and mechanisms that favour elites, restrictedweak coordination and regulation, and manipulated information flows. This in turn reduces individuals’incentives to invest. If farmer organisations are to realise their potential as a means of enabling the small-holder sector to significantly contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction, policy and researchneeds to address key factors which influence accountability including: how to ensure initial processes information of farmer organisations establish appropriate structures and rules; strong state regulation toenhance corporate accountability; transparent information provision regarding actions of farmer organi-sation leaders; and the role independent non-government organisations can play. Consequently attentionneeds to focus on developing means of legitimising rights, building poor people’s capacity to challengeexclusion, and moving from rights to obligations regarding information provision.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of International Development
ID Code:35256

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