Project Description

Picture: courtesy of A. Avdeenko


In Senegal we partnered with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to evaluate – via a randomized control trial – training and trust building interventions meant to improve the functioning of rural smallholder organizations.

Smallholder farmers in Africa not only face low productivity of soils and agricultural technologies but also considerable obstacles in marketing their produce. Substantial diseconomies of scale and limited market power are main sources of low productivity and relatively low yields, and lead to disadvantages with respect to input and output prices. Smallholder producer organizations can alleviate some of these problems. Yet many farmer cooperatives in Senegal struggle with low participation of their members in group marketing. A lack of trust in the cooperative’s ability to obtain real improvements was identified as one reason for such limited involvement.


In order to improve the functioning of rural smallholder organizations in Senegal, training and trust building interventions were implemented and subsequently evaluated via a randomized control trial design. Trust-building workshops and leadership training of different intensities were tested against a control group. The workshops were intended to instill confidence and trust among the members and leaders. To this end, we varied the content of these workshops and also the composition of participants, including and excluding leaders as well as regular members of the cooperatives, also in order to learn how knowledge and trust spill over within the cooperative. It was found that training improved the functioning of the farmer cooperative by significantly increasing the trust in leaders and fellow members.