3rd Annual Research Conference, 11th - 12th July, 2016 Hangzhou, China

Business models for agricultural co-operatives: implications for sustainability

Smallholder farmers are responsible for the majority of agricultural production in emerging economics. The food production system is characterised by fragmented supply chains and inefficient production. Information asymmetry in food supply chains mean that farmers typically receive low incomes, stymying rural development. Cooperatives are hybrid organisations that have both, economic and social missions and play an increasingly important role in emerging economies such as Brazil, Colombia, South Africa and China. Policy makers lack systematic analysis of the economic, social and environmental impacts of cooperative business models initiated by smallholders. Addressing the challenges, the Business, Nature and Value (BNV) annual conference will bring together experienced and young researchers from around the world to explore how different types of coops can sustain their distinctiveness as profit making social movements and avoid degeneration towards the private interest of corporate forms.

The objectives of the conference were:

  1. To identify and characterize the different types of cooperatives commonly seen in emerging economies;
  2. To evaluate the effectiveness, sustainability and long-term impacts of different types of cooperatives and their role in the supply chain. Addressing issues of equity, governance, power distribution, heterogeneity of members, environmental impact, upgrading and scaling up and how all these factors affect the generation and capture of value by the coops in the supply chain;

The conference involved the presentation of key subjects by researchers from developed and developing countries; presentation of relevant research funding and dissemination sources by senior academics; paper/abstract presentations by young early career researchers and PhD students, and interactive group activities to identify common interests and linkages with the workshop key themes. Cultural events and welcome dinners were held in the evenings to foster networking among participants. A visit to Fuyang agricultural cooperative was carried out in the afternoon of the second day to understand the model of cooperatives in China.

The BNV conference provides a forum to develop networks to discuss opportunities for future research, collaborative publication opportunities and grant applications. Most important of all, a case database on co-operative models in emerging economies will emerge from this forum for cross-border learning by co-ops and policy makers.

This year, the BNV annual conference was held at Qizhen Hotel, Zi Jin Gang campus of Zhejiang University where Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) is located. CARD is established and guided jointly by the State Ministry of Education, Zhejiang Province Government and Zhejiang University, a multi-disciplinary and open research organization in which the responsibility systems of the Executive Board and Director-General have been introduced. The Centre offers several programs at the different levels in agricultural economics and management, including postdoctoral, Ph.D., master degree and visiting research programs. The Centre is ranked No. 1 in agricultural economics and management discipline in China and has more than 200 students, of whom 40 are doctoral candidates. For more details, visit CARD's homepage.

Conference Speakers included:

  • Prof. Zuhui Huang, Director of China Academy for Rural Development, Zhejiang University
  • Dr. Johan van Rooyen, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Dr. Adrian Bailey, Business School, University of Exeter
  • Prof. Jos Bijman, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Susana Pereira, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), Brazil
  • Dr. Anne Tallontire, University of Leeds, UK
  • Dr. Tongqun Sun and Dr. Yuan Peng, China Academy of Social Science
  • Prof. Zhaohui Wu, Oregon University, USA
  • Dr. Chen Ji, Zhejiang University, China
  • Professor Lenny Koh, Sheffield University, UK
  • Hao Dong, PhD Candidate, Business School, University of Exeter
  • Kathryn Anderson, PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin- Madison
  • Xiaokan Li, PhD Candidate, Zhejiang University
  • Zhang Ying, PhD Candidate, China Academy of Social Science

Contacts:

Zhejiang University

Dr. Chen Ji.
Assistant Professor
Agricultural Economics
Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD)
Zhejiang University
Tel. +86 13758178449
Email: Jichen@zju.edu.cn

University of Exeter Business School

Ms. Laura Zuluaga Cardona
Research Associate
University of Exeter Business School
Room 1.65A, Streatham Court, Streatham Campus
University of Exeter
Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4ST
Tel: +44 7494 570484
Email: L.Zuluaga-Cardona@exeter.ac.uk

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