Farmer cooperatives, gender and side-selling behavior in Burundi's coffee sector

November 12, 2020 - Author: Andrew Gerard, Maria Claudia Lopez, Daniel C. Clay, David L. Ortega

Gerard, A., Lopez, M. C., Clay, D. C., & Ortega, D. L. (2020). Farmer cooperatives, gender and side-selling behavior in Burundi's coffee sector. Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies. Published online 30 July 2020. 



This study aims to improve our understanding of side selling in farmer cooperatives. Cooperative member side selling, in which farmers divert produce from cooperatives to competitors, threatens coffee cooperatives. This is a problem in Burundi, where many households earn income from coffee and cooperatives serve a collective action function.


Using data from a survey of Burundian coffee farmers, we assess the determinants of two types of cooperative member side-selling behavior: selling to both cooperative and non-cooperative buyers and selling solely to non-cooperative buyers.


Farmers who sell to both cooperative and non-cooperative buyers are more likely to be male household heads, be more invested in coffee and have larger farms than non-side sellers, among other characteristics. Farmers who only sell to non-cooperative buyers are poorer and less invested in coffee than non-side sellers.

Research limitations/implications

Additional research is needed to better understand why side-selling behavior differs between groups and to better understand how household head gender influences side selling. In addition, this study lacks qualitative data supporting quantitative findings. Future research should include qualitative methods to better understand motivations for side-selling behavior.


The study provides important information on what influences cooperative member side selling and focuses on specific types of side-selling behavior that have been largely overlooked. The study focuses on the role of household head gender in side selling, which is important, given the centrality of women to African agriculture.


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