2.4.3. Examples of Successful Horizontal Linkages

  • Similar commercial orientation, knowledge and productive resources of members – Smallholder burley tobacco farmers in Malawi formed clubs, which then banded together to form NASFAM, [1] an association that was able to take advantage of new legislation allowing small farmers to market their crop directly rather than through middlemen.
  • Internal trust and social capital – When the Malawi government’s Smallholder Tea Authority[2] collapsed, farmers in some areas formed their own associations to sell tea to estates that welcomed their high quality product and offered inputs, technical advice and even health, education and social services.
  • External demand for product quality and quantity that individuals alone cannot satisfy – Coffee cooperatives helped producers in Ethiopia and Indonesia ensure that their products met the quality and quantity standards the specialty coffee export markets demanded.
  • Potential for economies of scale in production, processing, marketing and purchasing – The Bangladesh JOBS project met with small growers to discuss the benefits of collective organization and helped a pineapple association form them into producer groups to access finance, purchase inputs, scale up production and to aggregate, grade and market their pineapples.
  • Benefits of cooperation exceed its cost, including time invested – When a women’s association and a young farmers’ group in Uganda realized they could not manage group-owned fruit driers[3] efficiently, members bought their own small driers. At the same time, they also realized that the benefits of group membership outweighed the costs and they retained the groups for bulking and marketing purposes.


  1. http://www.acdivoca.org/acdivoca/portalhub.nsf/ID/malawiNASFAM
  2.  Reforming the Smallholder Coffee Sector in Malawi: A Case Study of Smallholder Commercialisation
  3. http://www.odi.org.uk/resources/specialist/natural-resource-perspectives/20-smallholders-agricultural-services-africa.pdf