Case Study: Phata Cooperative | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data
Case Study: Phata Cooperative cover image

Resource information

Date of publication: 
June 2019
Resource Language: 
Pages: 
44

Recognizing the extensive literature available on outgrower cooperative farming, this case study seeks to add to this literature by providing in-depth learnings and guidance on good practices for structuring commercial, cooperative outgrower schemes in Malawi and potentially elsewhere. Practical guidance on such schemes is critically important, as they represent an alternative to large-scale commercial estates, which are often criticized for requiring communities to transfer their land rights and uses, while providing limited opportunities for communities to participate in and benefit from large-scale agribusiness. At the same time, outgrower cooperative models are fraught with risk, as small-scale farmers often do not have access to resources (e.g., finance, fertilizer, water, technology), skillsets (e.g., business skills for engaging in contract farming), or time required to efficiently and effectively manage what can be a multi-million dollar enterprise. Furthermore, farmers may lack the skills or ability – due to power dynamics – to monitor and deter self-dealing by cooperative leaders.

The Phata Sugarcane Outgrowers Cooperative (“Phata”) is an approximately 1,100 member cooperative located in the Chikwawa District in southern Malawi. Phata provides an example of a cooperative that has managed to unlock development opportunities by taking concrete measures to mitigate risks detailed above. Based on desk and field research, this case study identifies several fundamental “building blocks” required for creating and sustaining a viable commercial, cooperative outgrower scheme. Each building block includes key lessons and recommendations for areas of improvement.

Although Phata is considered an economic and development success, the case study importantly identifies areas where the Cooperative has had negative impacts and areas in which the Cooperative can do better. Particularly, the case study concludes that Phata could benefit from adopting a more proactive approach to addressing gender equity and establishing a more robust grievance mechanism to receive and address a range of complaints from its members, employees, and the surrounding community.

Authors and Publishers

Corporate Author(s): 

About Landesa

Landesa partners with governments and local organizations to ensure that the world’s poorest families have secure rights over the land they till. Founded as the Rural Development Institute, Landesa has helped more than 105 million poor families gain legal control over their land since 1967. When families have secure rights to land, they can invest in their land to sustainably increase their harvests and reap the benefits—improved nutrition, health, and education—for generations.

The Interlaken Group is an informal network of individual leaders from influential companies, investors, CSOs, government and international organizations. The purpose of the Group is to expand and leverage private sector action to secure community land rights. Together they develop, adopt and disseminate new tools and advance new “pre-competitive” mechanisms to accelerate private sector learning on responsible land rights practices.

Publisher(s): 

About Landesa

Landesa partners with governments and local organizations to ensure that the world’s poorest families have secure rights over the land they till. Founded as the Rural Development Institute, Landesa has helped more than 105 million poor families gain legal control over their land since 1967. When families have secure rights to land, they can invest in their land to sustainably increase their harvests and reap the benefits—improved nutrition, health, and education—for generations.

The Interlaken Group is an informal network of individual leaders from influential companies, investors, CSOs, government and international organizations. The purpose of the Group is to expand and leverage private sector action to secure community land rights. Together they develop, adopt and disseminate new tools and advance new “pre-competitive” mechanisms to accelerate private sector learning on responsible land rights practices.

Share this page