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The Department of Environmental Economics and Management

The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

PO Box 12, Rehovot 76100
Fax: 08-9466267

Department Head:
Prof. Ayal Kimhi, Tel: 08-9489376

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Dr. Iddo Kan, Tel: 08-9489233

Miri Arazi, Tel: 08-9489230


Yanbykh, R. ; Saraikin, V. ; Lerman, Z. Cooperative tradition in Russia: a revival of agricultural service cooperatives?. Post-Communist Economies 2019, 31, 750-771. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Agricultural cooperatives in Russia have had an uneven evolution: from their initial form of service cooperatives based on classical principles of cooperation in the decades before 1929, they evolved to predominantly production cooperatives during the Soviet era and then back to service cooperatives with the rapid decline in the number and share of production cooperatives after 1992. The number of agricultural cooperatives providing product marketing, input supply, machinery and farm credit services matches the number of production cooperatives as of 2016 but formal membership in service cooperatives is minuscule. Yet, the potential membership in agricultural service cooperatives is conservatively estimated at between 3.8 and 7.5 million rural households, or between 29% and 56% of the rural households in 2017. These numbers represent the pool of small agricultural producers in Russia that are most likely to benefit from cooperation in farm services. More optimistic estimates put the potential number of cooperators at over 90% of all rural households. Examination of possible policy measures for the development of service cooperatives has led to a disturbing conclusion that cooperatives flourish in regions that provide ample budgetary support. No tendencies for significant bottom-up development of cooperatives are observed. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Uzun, V. ; Shagaida, N. ; Lerman, Z. Russian agriculture: Growth and institutional challenges. Land Use Policy 2019, 83, 475-487. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Russian agriculture has shown stable growth since 1999. The food trade balance steadily improves and the share of imported food in retail markets is decreasing due to the government's import substitution policies. Russia has re-emerged on the world arena as a food exporter and now ranks among the leading exporters of wheat and vegetable oil. Agricultural production growth has become export oriented. To continue its growth, Russia's agriculture should emphasize returning unused land to cultivation and adopt new technologies to increase the comparatively low crop and livestock yields. The skewed land distribution and agricultural support system, both strongly biased toward large farms and agroholdings, constrain the development of small farms and prevent their participation in food value chains, negatively impacting on rural development. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
Lerman, Z. ; Sedik, D. Transition to smallholder agriculture in Central Asia. Journal of Agrarian Change 2018, 18, 904-912. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The article reviews the development of smallholder farming in Central Asia's former Soviet republics. One of the striking features of the agricultural transition in Central Asia (and Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] in general) is the dramatic shift, since 1992, from the predominance of large corporate farms to individual or family agriculture based on a spectrum of small farms. Evidence shows that individualization of agriculture is associated with the observed posttransition recovery in Central Asia (and in CIS in general) and that small family farms outperform the large enterprises. This clashes with the traditional philosophy of economies of scale and with the inherited view of small family farms as an undesirable aberration. We discuss the policies that helped smallholder farms in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan and severely restricted their growth and development in Uzbekistan and especially Turkmenistan. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Sedik, D. ; Lerman, Z. ; Shagaida, N. ; Uzun, V. ; Yanbykh, R. Agricultural and rural policies in Russia; Handbook of International Food and Agricultural Policies (In 3 Volumes); 2017; pp. 433-495. Publisher's Version
Lerman, Z. ; Sedik, D. Cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan: Findings from a Survey of Cooperatives and Users. Contributions to Management Science 2017, 233-249. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Most cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan are production cooperatives—successors of former collective farms. There are hardly any “pure” service cooperatives, although a survey conducted as part of this study reveals that production cooperatives partially fulfill the function of service cooperatives by providing farm services also to nonmembers. Most respondents highlight difficulties due to shortage of inputs and inadequate access to farm machinery, including lack of machinery leasing options. Difficulties with product sales, access to financial sources, and veterinary services were highlighted with lower frequency, but still by more than 20% of respondents. These are precisely the problem areas that service cooperatives are designed to overcome. Respondents indicate that cooperatives play a positive role in rural life: they improve service delivery to farmers and the perceived well-being is higher for cooperative members than for outsiders. Formal cooperation as manifested in membership in cooperatives is very limited among the farmers surveyed. Informal cooperation is much more widespread, and the substantial gap between the frequency of formal and informal cooperation (8% and 22% of farmers surveyed, respectively) clearly suggests that there is a large potential for development and adoption of service cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan. Cooperatives in Kyrgyzstan are few in number and widely scattered. More than half the respondents report that there is no cooperative in the vicinity that they can join. Other reasons for not joining a cooperative (fear of losing independence, lack of information about cooperatives) manifest lack of clear understanding of the differences between service and production cooperatives and strongly suggest that cooperative development requires a large-scale information campaign to familiarize the rural population with the working of cooperatives. © Springer International Publishing AG 2017.
Shagaida, N. ; Lerman, Z. Land policy in Russia: New challenges; The Eurasian Wheat Belt and Food Security: Global and Regional Aspects; 2016; pp. 33-50. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The chapter examines the outcomes of 20 years of land reform in the Russian Federation’s agriculture. The landownership structure is assessed, the risks voiced at the beginning of the reform are re-evaluated and new risks related to the development of landownership are highlighted. Russia’s land policy has gone through several stages since the beginning of reform: from clearly formulated policies and procedures in the early 1990s to a set of administrative activities entrusted to disjointed land authorities at the present time. Despite institutional difficulties, the land market appears to be emerging in Russia; land has become transferable, it is actively redistributed between peasant farms and corporate farms and it is reallocated to new users. In the absence of an institution that controls and manages the country’s land resources, the land policy is unable to respond to new challenges that arise in the course of the ongoing land reform. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017.
Uzun, V. ; Lerman, Z. Outcomes of agrarian reform in Russia; The Eurasian Wheat Belt and Food Security: Global and Regional Aspects; 2016; pp. 81-101. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this chapter, we evaluate and analyse the outcomes of agrarian reform in the post-Soviet Russian Federation. The reform has led to a clear change in the agrarian system in Russia, but not all the population, especially not all rural people, have come out as winners. The observed increase in agricultural labour productivity has been accompanied by shedding of labour in agriculture and increasing rural unemployment; the higher productivity of livestock has been accompanied by herd contraction; improved input efficiency has been accompanied by reduction of input use; improved financial stability of agricultural producers has been accompanied by more frequent bankruptcies; and increase of total support to agriculture has been accompanied by reduced efficiency of the support. So far, Russia has not reached the pre-reform production level, and food self-sufficiency is below 90%. A new middle class has not emerged in rural areas: most rural people are the new ‘proletariat’; they earn their livelihoods as hired workers and many of them have lost their land. We observe that agricultural production is increasingly concentrated in large vertically integrated structures with a multiplicity of agricultural subsidiaries and structures that are without analogues in developed economies. The evaluation of Russia’s reform requires a multi-faceted analysis of the entire range of outcomes, accounting for all effects including the adverse impacts. It is only in this way that we can draw valid conclusions from experience and develop recommendations for the future. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017.
Lerman, Z. Privatisation and changing farm structure in the commonwealth of independent states; The Eurasian Wheat Belt and Food Security: Global and Regional Aspects; 2016; pp. 15-32. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The most striking feature of land reform in the post-Soviet space has been the overall shift from collective to individual land tenure in agriculture, generally accompanied by privatisation of legal landownership. Individualisation of farming has been among the main factors that acted to arrest the initial decline in production during the transition and to bring about agricultural recovery in the region. In Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, the recovery point for agricultural growth is closely linked with the observed watershed dates for individualisation of farming. Furthermore, the rate and the attained level of recovery are higher in countries that pursued decisive individualisation policies (Transcaucasus, Central Asia), while in countries with less sweeping individualisation reforms (European CIS) the recovery has been sluggish. Land reform and individualisation have also led to significant improvements in agricultural productivity due to the higher incentives in family farming. Greater production and higher productivity have contributed to significant poverty reduction since 2000. To ensure continued improvement of rural family incomes and poverty mitigation, policy measures should be implemented that facilitate enlargement of very small family farms and encourage the access of small farms to market channels and services. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017.
Stanchin, I. ; Lerman, Z. Wheat production in Turkmenistan: Reality and expectations; The Eurasian Wheat Belt and Food Security: Global and Regional Aspects; 2016; pp. 215-228. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the Soviet period, Turkmenistan specialised in cotton production. When the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a breakdown of agricultural trade links between the former Soviet republics, Turkmenistan could no longer rely on assured supplies of wheat in exchange for its cotton, and the food security situation deteriorated. The government launched the Zerno (Grain) Programme in 1991 to resolve emerging difficulties with wheat supply. The measures undertaken between 1991 and 2013 within the framework of this programme included the reorganisation of the government control system for agriculture, the transformation of the farming structure and the implementation of land and water reform. Massive investments amounting to USD 5.5 billion were made in opening up virgin lands for cultivation, developing new infrastructure for grain processing and purchasing new farm machinery. The special attention paid to the grain sector led to the rapid expansion of wheat production. Traditionally a wheat importer, Turkmenistan started exporting wheat in 2010. Projections by local experts suggest that, despite the expected population increase of about 30% over the next 15 years, Turkmenistan will be able to maintain wheat exports at the level of 200,000-400,000 tons annually. © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017.