Topic: The needed peer-to-peer cooperation for the place-based agroecological transition: Tactics to reciprocally collaborate despite the farmers' heterogeneity
Keywords: farmers’ cooperation, agroecology, place-based, heterogeneity, reciprocity
In the current context of heterogeneity and competition between the diverse sociotechnical forms of agriculture, the agroecological innovation requires cooperation, especially at the local level, among the heterogeneous farmers. However, the local inter-farm cooperation that offers opportunities for farmers to better access and manage equipment, labor and material resources, remains hidden in the academic production.
This paper, based on the experience of French farm machinery cooperatives (CUMA), shows how local inter-farm cooperation can help make farming systems more agroecological. Many French farmers cooperate through their machinery cooperatives and other sharing arrangements, which facilitates the agroecological improvement of their farming systems by relying to a greater extent on peer-to-peer cooperation. An increased interdependence between peers results from the deepening of their peer-to-peer cooperation, while providing farmers with additional room for maneuver. The analysis of their modes of local inter-farm cooperation, based on the study of six machinery coops,
reveals the key role and the intertwining of the sociotechnical and symbolic stakes. These give rise to a diversity of tactics organized by the farmers to manage to cooperate horizontally with their heterogeneous peers. We conclude by arguing that local inter-farm cooperation warrants more attention, both from academy and policies, to help strengthen its development and to expand its potential for contributing to the agroecological transition.