Main Article Content
Over 20 years after the implementation of irrigation schemes in the surrounding
area of the Itaparica Reservoir, in the semi-arid region of Northeast Brazil, insufficient
infrastructure and low market power still impact smallholders’ incomes and
development of market strategies to support rental increase from the smallholders.
Lack of access to credit, high input costs, and low producer prices for major crops
have helped to maintain the poverty status of smallholders that equally affects
small agricultural producers like cattle breeders. Agricultural cooperatives have
contributed to increase their members’ market power in agricultural commerce and
facilitate their access to credit and agricultural expansion. To analyze the historical
context of this situation, as well as the potentials and constraints of agricultural
cooperatives and associations, 24 qualitative expert interviews were conducted
among members of cooperatives or associations and consultants involved with
technical assistance to smallholders. During the study period, no active agricultural
cooperatives could be identified. Financial problems related with lack of financial
resources, inadequate government support, absence of leadership and poor
organization, and missing solidarity and mistrust were considered the main reasons
for the cooperatives’ poor situation. However, the potential of these cooperatives
are illustrated by the efficiency of the fishery and apiculture associations.
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