Institutional Innovations in Tree Crop Producer Organisations in Africa

Tree crop commodities have the potential to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in developing countries. However, while governments benefit from the GDPs these commodities generate, individual farmers and their households who are at the very beginning of the chain are unable to earn a living from the activity (Waarts et al 2019, van de Ven et al 2021).Interventions to improve farmers’ livelihoods in the tree crop commodity sector has ranged from training to certification and provision of inputs, infrastructure, and support to producer organisations (POs). Yet, our personal experience as the children and grandchildren of African cocoa and coffee farmers reveals glory days and stories by one of our grandmothers heralding the system at her time that assisted her with inputs including fertilisers and pesticides applied on her farms and those of her neighbours. The story was never the same for one of our mothers who was deprived of such benefits in the early nineties. Therefore, she abandoned the cocoa and coffee farms she inherited from her parents, cleared some cocoa and planted pineapples and other annual crops. Unlike our grandmother, who did intensive cocoa and coffee farming in the sixties, our mother complained of no assistance, poor road infrastructure, poor prices and non-functional cooperatives that provided little or no assistance, as was the case in the days of her mother. This little story about our parents brings to light the need to enhance the performance of POs as extensively discussed in the 2008 World Development Report (World Bank 2007) and the need to go back to history to understand their performance. In other words,the performance of tree crop POs cannot be enhanced without looking back at their history.This flashback rests on the foundation of institutional change, which cautions against relying solely on the present without looking at the past because the necessary conditions for the current outcome may have occurred in the past (Kirsten et al 2008).

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    Foundjem-Tita D, Urcil K E, Mandiefe S P, Nsofon G G


    Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia