- 2017-18/123 - Alternative Institutional Arrangements in Producer Organisations: Some Lessons
- Speaker(s) : Sankar Datta
In recent years, there has been a revival in organizing rural producers into their collectives so as to better meet challenges of market access and value in an increasingly diversified agricultural market where the state is but one of the players. What emerged out from several cases of such initiatives studied by IRMA team was to introspect on “Who Is acting to address Whose Problems?” Those collectives wherein farmers came forward to tackle their own problems by forming a collective had a greater sense of ownership, good participation and hence were more participatory in the short run and more self-reliant later on. Collectives where needs of farmers as identified by the promoting agency matched the immediate needs of farmers were internalized and there was greater acceptance as members of the collective. However, collectives where solutions identified by the promoting agency were not aligned to members’ immediate needs created issues in the longer run. Producers joined the collective more as a respect to the promoting agency than for addressing a problem faced by them.
For example, most of the poor subsistence farmers hardly had any marketable surplus. Often they did not have enough to meet their own consumption needs. Organizing them for ‘marketing their produce’ instead of increasing their productive asset value, was looked at as the agenda of the promoting agency by many producers. Similar views were expressed about ‘inclusion’ as well.
Though ‘inclusion’ has been a dominant theme with the promoting agencies, taking into consideration entrepreneurial and profit-oriented role-played by the collective the extent to which it could include small and marginal farmers, especially women, as active members who either transact with the collective regularly or in the decision-making positions is limited.
Most collectives promoted by promoting agencies were multi-tiered. However, affinity of members towards various tiers of the collective declined, in the studied cases. People could not relate to higher levels/tiers of the collective. On the human resource front, it was observed that leadership with well-educated board with clarity on development objectives of the collective could mobilize external support, when needed; as well as good quality staff hired and managed by the board, the collectives played a critical role. However, in those collectives where good quality staff were hired, managed and paid by the promoting agency, the collectives could only make profits till funding was available.