Reviews

This article explores the changes in resource use, agricultural production and productivity during the transition (up to 2004). While the share of labour employed in agriculture has increased in all the countries analysed, the share of agriculture in GDP has declined, pointing to generally decreasing productivity of agriculture relative to manufacturing and other sectors of the economy. The precipitous transition decline that began in 1991 with the break-up of the Soviet system gave way to definite recovery starting around 1998. According to the author, agricultural growth and performance are positively linked with individualisation of farming in transition countries and with various measures of policy reform. Countries that have achieved greater progress in the implementation of agricultural reform record better agricultural performance. This article is of interest because it provides comprehensive data related to agriculture in the Former Soviet Union. It, for instance, demonstrates that despite a rise in the late 1990s, agricultural production in 2000 was much below the late 1980s (comparable to the late 1970s). Central Asia is actually the region which has seen the most rapid catch-up. The link between performance and policy can be questioned and seems more ideological than based on data. Indeed, despite the fact that there has been some agricultural liberalisation (with increased individual farming), Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan continue to be based on a Soviet-style agriculture for sectors such as cotton with input provision and obligation for farmers to sell to public-owned entities. However, their performance has been among the best in terms of agricultural production in the last years (even if productivity decreased). Moreover, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, who liberalised their agriculture have not seen an increased performance. Therefore, at best, the link between agricultural liberalisation and productivity is inconclusive and is what has been seen more generally for FSU economies (not only agriculture).

Gaël Raballand, Observatory of Post-Soviet States, Paris
CER: II-7.1-571