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Abstract

The repercussions of reforming an agricultural market are mainly observed at the most vulnerable segment of the value chain, namely, the producers. In the current commodity market created with trade through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), coffee is less traceable to its producers. Only cooperatives that sell certified coffee through the unions they belong to, are allowed to bypass the more commodified ECX market. This study aims to investigate if small-scale coffee producers in southwestern Ethiopia that sell coffee through the certified cooperative are better off. It is assumed that the coffee sales through, and membership of, a cooperative, allows farmers to improve their coffee production as well as to improve other aspects of their livelihood. A sustainable livelihood approach was used as the inspiration for the welfare indicators that needed to be considered, data collected amongst members and non-members of certified cooperatives, and a propensity score model to investigate the impact of cooperative membership on the livelihood indicators. Results suggest that members of certified cooperatives indeed receive, on average, better prices. Yet, no evidence was found that indicates that the higher price is translated into better household income. Furthermore, coffee plantation productivity of those members who were interviewed was lower than that of the non-members. This finding could explain the failure to find an overall effect. Since the majority of the producers’ income emanate from coffee, a sustainable way of enhancing the productivity of the coffee could revitalize the welfare of the coffee producers.

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