The effectiveness of GRSOS, horizontal networks of GROs and GRSOS, and their ultimate impact on governments and other outsiders depends on the groups at the bottom of the organizational pyramid. This chapter has dealt with some of the failures and frustrations of GROS. But there is an immense body of evidence that GROs are not only the strongest and broadest part of the pyramid, they are also the sine qua non of effective and sustainable development. The yields for rain-fed farmers in Kenya who belonged to GROs were significantly higher than for those who did not belong, even though GRO members had lower ratios of extension agents per farmer than did nonmembers. And in Zimbabwe, the positive impact of membership in GROs became more powerful as rainfall and soil conditions worsened. 146
The potential implications of the growth of GROs to institutional development do not only relate to their economic achievements. Equally crucial is the political role that the newly empowered will play, in conjunction with GRO networks, GRSOs, and even GRSO networks. Although the political role of GROs will be more fully explored in Volume 2, their relationships with other NGOs are explored more fully in the chapters that follow.