American University
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What makes a farmer? The limited expansion of commercial farming among Bulgarian smallholders

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posted on 2023-08-04, 08:44 authored by Mieke MeursMieke Meurs

Post-socialist restoration of property rights brought expectations that small commercial farming would expand, raising smallholder incomes. However, commercial farming remains limited among smallholders in many places. This paper uses interviews with Bulgarian smallholders to analyze the decision-making process related to land use. Land holders differ in their goals for farming and these differences are associated with land use. Some landholders adjust their goals toward more income-generating uses as they experience better-than-expected returns, while others are content with more modest returns. But few seem willing to give up farming altogether. If goals differ, many farmers adjust slowly from a starting point strongly influenced by local history, and few exit farming altogether, more complete development of property rights, markets and contracting systems alone will not result in wider adoption of commercial farming. While commercially, and even growth-oriented smallholders may emerge, significant smallholder land will remain in less productive uses for some time.



American University


Working Papers 2013-08.


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