Special Issue "Agricultural Cooperative in the Face of the Challenges of Globalization, Sustainability and Digitalization"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Agricultural Economics, Policies and Rural Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 11334

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Special Issue Editors

Dr. Adoración Mozas Moral
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Business Organization, Marketing and Sociology, Faculty of Social and Legal Sciences, University of Jaén, Jaén, Spain
Interests: sustainability; social economy; SDG; sustainable management and entrepreneurship
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Domingo Fernandez Ucles
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Business Organization, Marketing and Sociology, Faculty of Social and Legal Sciences, University of Jaen, Jaen, Spain
Interests: social economy; agriculture; innovation; social media; organic products
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The enormous contribution of agricultural cooperative societies to the rural world has not gone unnoticed. This is corroborated by many international entities such as the International Cooperative Alliance, COPA-COGECA, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Social and Solidarity Economy and CIRIEC International.

The International Cooperative Alliance estimates that 12% of the world's population is linked to one of the 3 million cooperatives that exist worldwide, most of them linked to rural areas. Therefore, cooperative societies are not a marginal phenomenon.

In relation to the role played by agricultural cooperatives in the world, it should be said that the agricultural cooperative is an enterprise unconditionally and stably linked to the rural environment, to the farmer and the stockbreeder. For this reason, it plays a leading role in the local economy and in the fixation of the population to the territory, thus contributing to the balance and management of the territory, which makes them true agents of rural development. On the other hand, cooperative societies have been the guarantors of the structuring of agriculture in rural areas in many countries. These organizations constitute the main structured, organized, professionalized and stable network established throughout the territory, in contact with the rural environment, with the capacity to communicate with and influence farmers and stockbreeders. They directly or indirectly provide much of the employment in the rural world and cooperative societies by nature develop their activity under cooperative principles and values that make them exponents of socially responsible enterprises and, therefore, are the key to sustainable development, as promulgated by the United Nations through the SDGs.

The aim of this Special Issue is to highlight the importance of agricultural cooperatives in the face of the challenges of globalization, sustainability and digitalization in rural areas.

Thus, this Special Issue presents different approaches to the object of analysis:

  • sustainability of the planet and agricultural cooperativism;
  • new models of agricultural cooperativism;
  • value chain and agricultural cooperatives;
  • food safety and traceability;
  • role of cooperatives in the ecological transition;
  • circular economy and agricultural cooperativism;
  • rural development through cooperatives;
  • sustainable tourism and cooperativism;
  • sustainable entrepreneurship, social innovation and cooperativism;
  • bioeconomy, green economy and cooperativism;
  • protection of people, human rights, social exclusion and cooperativism in rural areas;
  • decent work, economic growth and cooperativism;
  • responsible production and consumption and cooperativism;
  • prosperity, economic development, diversification and agricultural cooperativism;
  • women, equality and agricultural cooperativism;
  • Digital revolution, digitalization and collaborative economy through and agricultural cooperativism;
  • governance and agricultural cooperativism;
  • partnerships, public policies and agricultural cooperativism;
  • analysis of the contribution of agricultural cooperativism to the SDGs;
  • marketing and internationalisation.

These topics are the main ones, but they do not exclude others from being contributed.

Dr. Adoración Mozas Moral
Dr. Domingo Fernandez Ucles
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • agricultural cooperativism
  • social economy
  • value chain
  • safety and traceability
  • territorial and/or sustainable development
  • SDGs
  • sustainability
  • circular economy
  • sustainable tourism
  • diversification
  • bioeconomy
  • digitalization
  • innovation
  • partnerships
  • public policy
  • protection of human rights
  • implications for economic development
  • indicators and sustainability
  • gender perspective
  • governance

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
The Agricultural Cooperative in the Face of the Challenges of Globalization, Sustainability and Digitalization
Agriculture 2022, 12(3), 424; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12030424 - 18 Mar 2022
Viewed by 447
Abstract
The enormous contribution of agricultural cooperative societies to the rural world has not gone unnoticed [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Technical Efficiency of Cooperative and Non-Cooperative Dairies in Poland: Toward the First Link of the Supply Chain
Agriculture 2022, 12(1), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12010052 - 01 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 444
Abstract
Several studies conducted in various countries have addressed the technical efficiency of dairies. However, there is a paucity of research on the technical efficiency of dairies in Poland, particularly in relation to their legal form (i.e., cooperatives vs. non-cooperatives). The existing literature also [...] Read more.
Several studies conducted in various countries have addressed the technical efficiency of dairies. However, there is a paucity of research on the technical efficiency of dairies in Poland, particularly in relation to their legal form (i.e., cooperatives vs. non-cooperatives). The existing literature also does not provide insights into the technical efficiency of these entities with respect to different regions’ milk production capacity. Therefore, this paper aims to: (1) evaluate and compare the technical efficiency of cooperative and non-cooperative dairies in Poland, and (2) examine dairies’ technical efficiency due to spatial disparities in milk production potential. We use data envelopment analysis (DEA) to investigate the technical efficiency of 108 dairies in Poland for the year 2019. The milk production capacity of provinces is examined by applying the zero unitarization method. The results show that when assuming constant returns to scale (CRS), dairy cooperatives are less technically efficient than non-cooperatives, whereas when assuming variable returns to scale (VRS), these differences are not statistically significant. For inefficient dairies, we observe the greatest potential for improvement in labor costs and depreciation. Both cooperatives and non-cooperatives operate mostly under decreasing returns to scale. Thus, the potential for enhancing the technical efficiency of dairies through the consolidation process seems to be exploited. Our findings reveal that the technical efficiency of dairies in Poland is not differentiated by regional milk production potential. Full article
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Article
A Territorial-Driven Approach to Capture the Transformative Momentum of the Social Economy Especially from the Agricultural Cooperatives
Agriculture 2021, 11(12), 1281; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11121281 - 16 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 631
Abstract
In the last few lustrums, the literature has searched for more precise methods to assess the socio-economic importance of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). On that basis, this article offers a new way of assessing the SSE impact, enhancing the understanding of [...] Read more.
In the last few lustrums, the literature has searched for more precise methods to assess the socio-economic importance of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). On that basis, this article offers a new way of assessing the SSE impact, enhancing the understanding of the SSE potential for socio-economic transformation. An evolutionary micro–meso–macro and territorial theoretical framework is developed, utilizing, along with the assistance of a qualitative methodology, studies on the transformation promoted by the SSE on the sugar cane cluster of Veracruz (Mexico). The main results of the article are that the SSE boost beneficiaries, while the protagonists of the transformation cannot be defined a priori, but are rather conformed by transformation vectors promoted by the SSE: their values shared by a wide spectrum of actors, the SSE socio-economic and organizational specificities, and their rooting in the productive system. The fundamental conclusion of the article is the need for a “territorial-driven approach” of the SSE’s impact, compared to the dominant “stakeholder-driven approach”. The main limitations (and suggestions for future studies) are the empirical investigation of a single case, and the need to develop a qualitative and quantitative system of indicators of the transformative drive of SSE. Full article
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Article
Why Do Agricultural Cooperative Mergers Not Cross the Finishing Line?
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1173; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111173 - 20 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
Mergers have played a relevant role in the business development of many agri-food cooperatives and have led to the consolidation of large cooperative groups which are leaders in their respective business sectors. However, many of the merger processes undertaken fail: some are aborted [...] Read more.
Mergers have played a relevant role in the business development of many agri-food cooperatives and have led to the consolidation of large cooperative groups which are leaders in their respective business sectors. However, many of the merger processes undertaken fail: some are aborted at the negotiation stage, and others are not approved by members. These failures entail financial and social costs due to frustrated expectations and the time invested in the negotiation process. The objective of this paper is to establish the economic, socio-cultural, organisational and process management factors that underlie this outcome. A survey was conducted among the directors and administrators of a sample of Spanish agri-food cooperatives that had participated in merger processes which were aborted at the negotiation stage or were not approved by their members. Factor and discriminant analyses established the aspects which had the greatest impact on the failure of the merger processes. Far from being economic factors, these analyses reveal that defensive localisms, a lack of commitment to the merger on the part of members and directors, and communication failures were more significant. Full article
Article
Trust in Collective Entrepreneurship in the Context of the Development of Rural Areas in Poland
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1151; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111151 - 16 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 662
Abstract
The aim of this research was to examine whether trust influences the functioning of various forms of collective entrepreneurship in rural areas. The study focused on organizations which are most common in rural Poland: agricultural producer organizations, rural women’s circles, and local action [...] Read more.
The aim of this research was to examine whether trust influences the functioning of various forms of collective entrepreneurship in rural areas. The study focused on organizations which are most common in rural Poland: agricultural producer organizations, rural women’s circles, and local action groups. Hence, the survey sample included people engaged in these types of collective entrepreneurship. Data collection was based on a standardized questionnaire distributed online utilizing the computer-assisted web interviewing method. The statistical analysis of the empirical material obtained from 132 respondents involved Pearson and Spearman correlation and principal component analysis. The conducted research shows (1) the superior role of personal trust over institutional trust in the emergence and functioning of the studied forms of collective entrepreneurship in rural areas, (2) the greater importance of social than economic factors determining the functioning of rural collective entrepreneurship, (3) the positive impact of generalized trust on trust placed in the forms of entrepreneurship covered by the analysis, (4) the increase in trust over time of cooperation, and (5) the impact of trust on the functioning of collective entrepreneurship, in both the economic and the social dimensions, with a slight advantage of the latter. By focusing on trust, this article contributes to the literature on the role of trust in developing collective entrepreneurship in rural areas. The authors point out that this article only opens the space for a discussion on trust in the concept of the economics of trust. Full article
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Article
Profile of the Small-Scale Farms Willing to Cooperate—Evidence from Lithuania
Agriculture 2021, 11(11), 1071; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11111071 - 30 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 626
Abstract
Cooperatives cover a large part of the agricultural sectors and have substantial market shares in agri-food supply chains in the EU Western countries. They account for approximately half of agricultural trade in the EU. By contrast, in the EU Western countries, where farmer [...] Read more.
Cooperatives cover a large part of the agricultural sectors and have substantial market shares in agri-food supply chains in the EU Western countries. They account for approximately half of agricultural trade in the EU. By contrast, in the EU Western countries, where farmer cooperatives are widespread and successful, agricultural cooperation in Lithuania has developed intermittently in the last century. We still have very limited knowledge of why the country’s agricultural producers (especially smallholder farmers) are reluctant to cooperate in Lithuania. The aim of this study is to assess the level of the willingness to cooperate among smallholder farmers in Lithuania and to draw up the profiles of small-scale farms that participate in and intend to join cooperatives and, conversely, that do not participate in cooperatives and do not intend to do so. To achieve this goal, a representative survey of small-scale farms was conducted. Results of surveys carried out in 2019 in Lithuania on a group of 1002 small-scale farms showed that only 8% of the surveyed farms participate in producer groups or cooperatives, while another 8% intend to participate. Small-scale farms in Lithuania have weak market integration, with no bargaining power on input and output markets. The vast majority of small-scale farms are reluctant to participate in cooperative activities in Lithuania. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the profile of a small farm that tends to cooperate. The main social characteristics of farm managers and economic factors of farms willing to cooperate have been identified. Full article
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Article
The Role of Cooperatives in Brazilian Agricultural Production
Agriculture 2021, 11(10), 948; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11100948 - 29 Sep 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 876
Abstract
Much of the established literature on agricultural cooperatives describes their myriad contributions to farmers’ economic performance. In Brazil, one of the world’s leading agricultural exporters, there were more than 1500 agricultural cooperatives with 1 million members in 2020, and in 2017, 11% of [...] Read more.
Much of the established literature on agricultural cooperatives describes their myriad contributions to farmers’ economic performance. In Brazil, one of the world’s leading agricultural exporters, there were more than 1500 agricultural cooperatives with 1 million members in 2020, and in 2017, 11% of all Brazilian farms were associated with one of these cooperatives. In this paper, we estimate the factors associated with the municipality share of cooperative membership (MSCM) and how municipality-level production value changes with MSCM. Our analysis is at the municipality level using aggregate data from the 2017 Agricultural Census. We find that in Brazil, higher education and smaller property sizes are associated with membership in agricultural cooperatives. To estimate how MSCM is associated with farm profits, we use a generalized propensity score and find that an increase in MSCM increases net municipal farm income, driven mostly by an increase in the value of agricultural production compared to a smaller increase in the cost of production. Full article
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Article
Popularity in Social Networks. The Case of Argentine Beekeeping Production Entities
Agriculture 2021, 11(8), 694; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11080694 - 23 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 933
Abstract
The context of the COVID pandemic has accelerated the pace of the digitalization of society, especially of its business fabric. Among the various applications offered by the Internet, social networking platforms have been identified as powerful tools that organizations have at their disposal [...] Read more.
The context of the COVID pandemic has accelerated the pace of the digitalization of society, especially of its business fabric. Among the various applications offered by the Internet, social networking platforms have been identified as powerful tools that organizations have at their disposal for the development of their online business activities. This is due to the closeness and trust generated by word-of-mouth communication. In this context, the aim of this article is to identify which organizational characteristics are directly related to popularity on social networks, measured by the number of followers on these accounts. In order to achieve this objective, the Argentinean beekeeping organizations have been taken as a case study and the fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis method has been used. The results obtained allow us to validate the different organizational factors which, beyond the use of Facebook itself, lead to better results for the organizations in their social network strategies. These factors include their cooperative nature, localization, environmental sensitivity and presence on other digital platforms. Full article
Article
Does the Self-Identity of Chinese Farmers in Rural Tourism Destinations Affect Their Land-Responsibility Behaviour Intention? The Mediating Effect of Multifunction Agriculture Perception
Agriculture 2021, 11(7), 649; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11070649 - 09 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 990
Abstract
Farmers are the heart of rural tourism destinations, and their land-responsibility behaviours affect sustainable development. In this study, four rural tourist sites in the suburbs of Chengdu were selected, and the structural equation model was used to analyse the influence of farmers’ self-identity [...] Read more.
Farmers are the heart of rural tourism destinations, and their land-responsibility behaviours affect sustainable development. In this study, four rural tourist sites in the suburbs of Chengdu were selected, and the structural equation model was used to analyse the influence of farmers’ self-identity on their land-responsibility behaviours intention under the condition of agricultural multifunction perception as a mediation variable. The results show that, in rural tourism destinations of suburban districts of China, farmers’ self-identity is an important variable that affects their land-responsibility behaviour intention. Agricultural economic function perception mediates the relationship between farmers’ self-identity and land-responsibility behaviour intention. Agricultural non-economic function perception positively affects their agricultural economic function perception. Full article
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Article
Would Kazakh Citizens Support a Milk Co-Operative System?
Agriculture 2021, 11(7), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11070642 - 08 Jul 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 917
Abstract
We estimate the monetary value of a policy aimed at increasing rural co-operative production in Kazakhstan to increase milk production. We analyse the drivers associated with public support for such policy using the contingent valuation method. The role of individuals’ psychological aspects, based [...] Read more.
We estimate the monetary value of a policy aimed at increasing rural co-operative production in Kazakhstan to increase milk production. We analyse the drivers associated with public support for such policy using the contingent valuation method. The role of individuals’ psychological aspects, based on the reasoned action approach, along with individuals’ views on the country’s past regime (i.e., to the former Soviet Union), their awareness about the governmental policy, their sociodemographic characteristics, and household location on their willingness to pay (WTP) for the policy is analysed using an interval regression model. Additionally, we examine changes in individuals’ WTP before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The estimated total economic value of the policy is KZT 1335 bn for the length of the program at KZT 267 bn per year, which is approximately half the total program budget, which includes other interventions beyond the creation of production co-operatives. The total economic value of the policy would equal the cost of the whole program after 10 years, indicating public support for this policy amongst Kazakh citizens. Psychological factors, i.e., attitude, perceived social pressure, and perceived behavioural control, and the respondents’ awareness of the policy and views on the Soviet Union regime are associated with their WTP. Sociodemographic factors, namely, age, income, and education, are also statistically significant. Finally, the effect of the shocks of COVID-19 is negatively associated with the respondents’ WTP. Full article
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Article
The Digitalization of the European Agri-Food Cooperative Sector. Determining Factors to Embrace Information and Communication Technologies
Agriculture 2021, 11(6), 514; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11060514 - 02 Jun 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1698
Abstract
The digitization of the agri-food sector is a strategic priority in the political agenda of European institutions. The opportunity to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the sector offered by new technologies comes together with its potential to face new economic and environmental [...] Read more.
The digitization of the agri-food sector is a strategic priority in the political agenda of European institutions. The opportunity to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the sector offered by new technologies comes together with its potential to face new economic and environmental challenges. This research aims to analyze the level of digitalization of the European agri-food cooperative sector from the construction of a composite synthetic index. Such an index is to be based on a diverse set of variables related to electronic commerce and the services offered through the internet. It also evaluates how European cooperatives influence the degree of technological adoption depending on their size or the wealth of the country where they carry out their activity. The empirical analytical method is thus used, through the analysis of frequencies and correlations. The results obtained reveal the existence of a suboptimal and heterogeneous degree of digitization of European agri-food cooperatives, clearly conditioned by their size and the wealth of the country where they operate. In this situation, it is recommended to promote public policies that guarantee high-performance digital connectivity, an improvement in training in digital skills and the promotion of cooperative integration processes. Full article
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