Measuring the Impacts of Cooperative Participation on Vanilla Farmers in Madagascar
Abstract: This paper examines the effects of cooperative participation, and the bundle of benefits the cooperative offers, on various household indicators for vanilla farmers in rural Madagascar. The primary benefits of the cooperative are access to zero interest seasonal credit, collective price bargaining, increased security from crop theft, environmental education, and a bonus payment made afte... read morer the conclusion of the vanilla market. Using a difference in differences approach to compare vanilla farmers who chose to participate in the cooperative to vanilla farmers who chose not to participate, I find that take up of high interest informal loans is significantly reduced for cooperative participants. Similarly, I find that cooperative participants receive higher vanilla prices on average and see a significant reduction in price dispersion. Some of this price increase can be attributed to the fact that farmers no longer accept high interest informal seasonal loans but collective bargaining and transparent markets cannot be ruled out. Surprisingly however, I find a decrease in vanilla production, a decrease in total cash crop income, and a decrease in coffee production for farmers who enter the cooperative. Based on focus groups held during the data collection phase of this study, these decreases could be driven by cooperative members increased entrepreneurial investments in the non-agricultural sectors or side selling to buyers outside of the cooperative, but more research is required to confirm this hypothesis. Most interestingly however, I find differential treatment effects for women for almost all outcome variables with most negative results coming from male cooperative members. Similarly, differential effects were found for different age groups, and across different villages, which suggests cooperative programs could be modified to meet specific needs.
Thesis (M.S.)--Tufts University, 2018.
Submitted to the Dept. of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Advisors: Kyle Emerick, and Mary Davis.
Keywords: Environmental economics, and Economics.read less