A scoping review of the contributions of farmers’ organizations to smallholder agriculture

Livia Bizikova, Ephraim Nkonya, Margitta Minah, Markus Hanisch, Rama Mohana Rao Turaga, Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Muthumariappan Karthikeyan, Lixia Tang, Kate Ghezzi-Kopel, Julie Kelly, Ashley Casandra Celestin, Beth Timmers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Farmers’ organizations (FOs), such as associations, cooperatives, self-help and women’s groups, are common in developing countries and provide services that are widely viewed as contributing to income and productivity for small-scale producers. Here, we conducted a scoping review of the literature on FO services and their impacts on small-scale producers in sub-Saharan Africa and India. Most reviewed studies (57%) reported positive FO impacts on farmer income, but much fewer reported positive impacts on crop yield (19%) and production quality (20%). Environmental benefits, such as resilience-building and improved water quality and quantity were documented in 24% of the studies. Our analysis indicates that having access to markets through information, infrastructure, and logistical support at the centre of FO design could help integrate FOs into policy. Natural resource management should also be more widely incorporated in the services provided by FOs to mitigate risks associated with environmental degradation and climate change. Finally, farmers who are already marginalized because of poor education, land access, social status and market accessibility may require additional support systems to improve their capacities, skills and resources before they are able to benefit from FO membership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-630
Number of pages11
JournalNature Food
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ Germany) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for funding under the project Ceres2030: Sustainable Solutions to End Hunger.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


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