Agricultural policy is critical to the developmental efforts of African states lacking major mineral resources. Despite its importance, however, the production of export agricultural crops declined in the rural sectors of Africa as food imports became increasingly burdensome. In this highly original study, Crawford Young, Neal P. Sherman, and Tim H. Rose offer a theoretical and empirical comparison of the role of agricultural cooperatives in two middle-sized African states, Ghana and Uganda. The lessons learned here are of broad value and interest to those involved in planning and development in Third World nations, and to scholars and students in political science, political and agricultural economics, and rural sociology. The authors’ field work for this study was extensive, spanning more than ten years, and including interviews with, and surveys of, more than 1,400 African farmers, government officials, and others involved in agricultural policy in the two nations. Cooperatives have played a paramount role in both nations, in the marketing of the major export commodities (cocoa in Ghana, cotton and coffee in Uganda), and the governments of both nations have played central roles in the development or discouragement of the cooperatives. For this reason, the cooperative experience offers important insight into the political economy of agricultural development. The authors found that the classic cooperative egalitarian ideology was, in both nations, subordinate to local patterns of social hierarchy. Nevertheless, farmers in the two nations—particularly in Uganda—were generally favorable to the cooperative idea in theory and practice. With patient support, the authors conclude, cooperatives can exert a moderately positive influence on agricultural and political development.
Business & Investing, Economics, Cooperatives,