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Why Nicaraguan Peasants Stay in Agricultural Production Cooperatives

Authors:

Ruerd Ruben ,

Wageningen University, NL
About Ruerd
Ruerd Ruben is associate professor at the Development Economics Group,  Wageningen University, The Netherlands. His research focuses on the role of  agrarian organization and economic policies for sustainable resource management.  He has co-authored the books Agrarian Policies in Central America (with Wim Pelupessy) and Rural Development in Central America (with Johan Bastiaensen).  He recently published articles on rural land markets (in the Journal of Agrarian Change) and on rural finance (in Investigación Económica) in Central America.
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Zvi Lerman

Hebrew University of Jerusalem, IL
About Zvi
Zvi Lerman is professor at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Management, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on the performance of agricultural cooperatives and on issues of land reform and farm restructuring in transition economies. He has recently published a book entitled Agriculture  in Transition: Land Policies and Evolving Farm Structures in Post-Soviet Countries (co-authored with Csaba Csaki and Gershon Feder).
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Abstract

Despite the official support for parcellation of  agricultural production cooperatives created under  the Sandinista land reform in Nicaragua, a substantial number of peasants have decided to continue membership. Although theory suggests that  individual farms are more productive and more  efficient, Nicaraguan cooperatives did not fully  split up. We aim to identify the factors that govern  the choice of Nicaraguan peasants between staying in a cooperative and exiting to start a privately  owned farm. We used sample data from 475 landed households in four agroecological macroregions to compare resources, incomes and productivity of peasants continuing in production  cooperatives, former members of cooperatives  who became independent farmers, and peasants who had always been engaged in independent  farming. Low capital endowments of the new  independent farmers adversely affect their standard of living. Better access to non-farm income encourages peasants to remain in the cooperative  where they are less exposed to risk. Uncertainty associated with land ownership and difficulties  with resolution of cooperative debt play a dominant role in keeping Nicaraguan peasants in cooperatives. Cooperative members still maintain a  high degree of coordination of activities in order  to capture the benefits of rural development programmes.   

Resumen:  Porqué los campesinos nicaragüenses permanecen en las cooperativas agrícolas  de producción 

A pesar del apoyo oficial para la parcelación de  las cooperativas agrícolas de producción creadas  durante la reforma agraria Sandinista en Nicaragua, un número significativo de campesinos decidieron continuar con su membresía. Mientras la  teoría sugiere que fincas individuales son más  productivas y más eficientes, las cooperativas nicaragüenses no fueron completamente seccionadas en fincas individuales. Nuestro objetivo es  identificar los factores que rigen la decisión de  campesinos nicaragüenses de permanecer en la  cooperativa, o desligarse y emprender una finca  privada. Hemos utilizado información estadística  de 475 hogares rurales en cuatro regiones agroecológicas, donde se comparan los recursos, ingresos y productividad tanto de campesinos  miembros de cooperativas de producción, como de anteriores miembros de cooperativas quienes  se independizaron, y también de campesinos  quienes siempre han sido agricultores por cuenta propia. Para los campesinos recientemente independientes, sus reducidos capitales afectan desfavorablemente su estándar de vida. Quienes se  quedan en la cooperativa, enfrentan menos riesgos  y registran ingresos extra fuera de la finca. Inseguridad asociada con la propiedad de la tierra y  las dificultades para pagar la deuda contraída con  la cooperativa, juegan un papel predominante para  mantener los campesinos Nicaragüenses en las cooperativas. Los miembros de las cooperativas  siguen manteniendo un alto grado de coordinación  en actividades que les permiten captar beneficios  de los programas de desarrollo rural.
DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.9670
How to Cite: Ruben, R., & Lerman, Z. (2005). Why Nicaraguan Peasants Stay in Agricultural Production Cooperatives. ERLACS, (78), 31–47. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/erlacs.9670
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Published on 15 Apr 2005.
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