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Abstract

Agricultural cooperatives operate under the notion that smallholder farmers are better off working collectively. Rwanda’s coffee sector has experienced a significant transformation over the past two decades, which includes farmers coming together to establish cooperative coffee washing stations (CWSs). Our data and analysis show that these collectives provide farmers with a myriad of services that include economic, agronomic and social benefits. We find that cooperative membership affects adoption of specific practices, most notably pesticide application. This finding, however cannot be generalized to all best management practices as we find that membership is not associated with uptake of some practices (like fertilizer use) and in some instances it can contribute to a lower likelihood of adoption. Among other differences, we find that cooperative members attain higher levels of productivity, however our analysis cannot confirm this to be a causal relationship. We note that collective action in Rwanda’s coffee sector needs additional research attention, as these types of farmer associations don’t always thrive or provide the same level of services that their members expect. We derive implications of our findings and identify areas in need of further inquiry.

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