Fostering Capacity Building Among Groups of Disadvantaged Farmers, Southeastern North Carolina (USA)


  • Kathi Beratan North Carolina State University
  • Pamela Jackson Fayetteville State University
  • Sherrie Godette North Carolina State University



Capacity Building, Cooperatives, Disadvantaged Farmers, Extension, Sustainable Livelihoods


We present preliminary results from a qualitative comparative case study involving small-scale and disadvantaged (predominantly African American) farmers in southeastern North Carolina. Agricultural assistance organizations have promoted development of farmer cooperatives as an adaptive strategy for these farmers, with only limited success. This research explores factors that contribute to or detract from the capacity of disadvantaged rural households to take advantage of new opportunities, and the role of both tangible intangible assets in shaping outcomes. We gained rich insights about these factors through the provision of tangible assets and business planning assistance to four small groups of disadvantaged farmers attempting to adopt the innovation of collaboration. Provision of tangible assets is insufficient to ensure success; our findings suggest that capacity-building efforts focused too narrowly on assets can lead assistance providers to neglect critical mediating factors that influence outcomes. A key mediating factor is the strength of trust-based relationships among group members and between groups and assistance providers; establishment of such relationships is a necessary precursor to cooperation and capacity development. One implication is that assistance organizations might improve outcomes of programs aimed at disadvantaged populations by focusing on trust-building interactions and by providing coaching and facilitation services.


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Author Biographies

Kathi Beratan, North Carolina State University

Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, College of Natural Resources, North Carolina State University; Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8008 USA.

Pamela Jackson, Fayetteville State University

School of Business and Economics, Fayetteville State University; 1200 Murchison Road; Fayetteville, North Carolina 28301 USA.

Sherrie Godette, North Carolina State University

Department of Public Administration, School of Public and International Affairs, North Carolina State University; Raleigh North Carolina 27695-8102 USA.



How to Cite

Beratan, K., Jackson, P., & Godette, S. (2014). Fostering Capacity Building Among Groups of Disadvantaged Farmers, Southeastern North Carolina (USA). Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(3), 61–78.



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