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The role of small-scale producers' organisations in addressing market access

Sautier D., Biénabe E.. 2005. In : Almond F.R. (ed.), Hainsworth S.D. (ed.). Beyond agriculture - making markets work for the poor : Proceedings of the International Seminar, 28 February - 1 March 2005, Westminster, London, UK. Londres : CPHP, p. 69-85. International Seminar : Beyond Agriculture - Making Markets Work for the Poor, 2005-02-28/2005-03-01, Londres (Royaume-Uni).

Marketing through rural producers' organisations can be a way to overcome the constraints faced by individual small-scale farmers. Farming systems around the world are very diverse, yet dominated by small-scale family farming. About 75% of the 1,300 billion people working in the farming sector worldwide (3 billions with their families) still practice manual agriculture. Half of them do not use any inputs (fertilisers, seeds, etc.) because they lack the means. Only 2% of the world's farmers have a tractor and annually produce more than 1,000 mt/worker; 66% of the world's farmers annually produce less that 10 mt of grain equivalents/worker. In addition to farmers' generally low in-comes and lack of capital, marketing agricultural products tends to be hampered by such market imperfections as lack of information in rural areas, that is reinforced by the geographic dispersion of agents, and by poor infrastructure and communications. These characteristics are particularly vivid with the withdrawal of the state from productive and economic functions when the private sector is under-developed or when the market is not sufficiently attractive. Collective action can therefore be a way in which to address these obstacles and mitigate transaction costs, granted a dynamic market is identified. In the context of globalisation, characterised by more instability and competition, small-scale farmers are confronted with an increased need to enhance their competitiveness, and hence their productivity and ability to take advantage of economies of scale. Organisation can enable them to do this. Small-scale farmers face new constraints from the rapid changes in the organisation of marketing channels that are arising in the developing world. Public marketing boards are being dismantled, wholesale markets are loosing space; and supermarkets chains are spreading in Latin America, East and South-East Asia, Central Europe and Eastern and Southern Africa. Food product characteristics tend to be no longer determined by producers, but by traders, supermarkets and agro-industries that set their own standards. These private standards often substitute for missing or inadequate public enforcement of safety norms, and are used in the competition with the informal sector to claim superior food product quality. Furthermore, the rise of supermarkets tends to result in most countries in the establishment of centralised buying and distribution centres, with: (i) concomitant shifts from traditional brokers to new specialised/dedicated wholesalers and (ii) a decline of traditional wholesale systems. Small-scale producers generally lack the knowledge, information and resources to meet quality standards and formal markets' specifications. And the usual lack of formal contractual arrangements may be a disincentive for them to invest to meet these requirements. Furthermore, these requirements (quality, respect of standards and sanitary norms) are often beyond the technical and organisational capacities of such organisations. Support is then needed but it must be well thought out.

Mots-clés : marché intérieur; marché mondial; petite exploitation agricole; secteur agroindustriel; association d'agriculteurs; qualité; organisation paysanne; amérique latine; système agroalimentaire; développement local

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