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GEWISOLA session on “Agriculture thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union”

30 September 2021 - At this year’s GEWISOLA Annual Conference, IAMO members and partners held an organised session on 23 September 2021 entitled “Agriculture thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union: a role model for structural change in the West?”

The 61st Annual Conference of the German Society of Economics and Social Sciences in Agriculture (GEWISOLA) took place online from 22 to 24 September 2021 on “The transformation of agricultural and food systems: challenges for economics and social sciences”. As part of the event, researchers from IAMO and the Centre for International Development and Environmental Research (ZEU) at Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) organised a joint event with presentations centred around the topic of “Agriculture thirty years after the fall of the Soviet Union: a role model for structural change in the West?”

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 triggered discussions on agricultural land use in the newly independent states. Slow restructuring of the former collective farms, unclear property rights and failing marketing channels caused productivity in the post-Soviet agricultural sectors to fall significantly in the 1990s. Now, there are indications that various farm types with their own individual strengths have emerged and are coexisting dynamically. The post-Soviet agricultural sectors are characterised by commercialisation processes, (huge) technological advancements and occasional close ties between business and politics. Agricultural companies must find ways to balance the interests of different stakeholders and reach social and ecological sustainability goals. The presentations in this session took a fresh look at the transformation process using current data and examined the extent to which the changes mirror those already underway in Western agricultural sectors.

Prof. Dr Martin Petrick from ZEU and IAMO gave a lecture on “Farm types in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan: commercialisation, coexistence, continuity”. Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan (RUK) have only recently surpassed the agricultural production levels they were achieving at the end of the Soviet Union. Petrick looked at the role of non-agricultural investors, management imported from other sectors, the abandonment of unprofitable land and the long-term coexistence of different farm types to understand whether agricultural structural developments in RUK can provide an indication of the future of agriculture in Western countries. Download presentation

IAMO researcher Dr Taras Gagalyuk spoke on the topic of “Corporate governance and corporate social responsibility in agroholdings”. According to him, large agroholdings in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan demonstrate extensive social engagement to counter the turbulent institutional environment. In contrast to Western countries, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is part of the daily activities of agribusinesses in these post-Soviet countries and a strategic means of legitimisation with regard to employees and landholders. However, these CSR activities are not only morally motivated but often have an instrumental rationale. Download presentation

In her presentation entitled “Russia’s livestock farming boom”, IAMO researcher PD Dr Linde Götz discussed Russia’s import substitution policy, which has led to dynamic growth in the poultry and pork sectors. Russia transformed to a net exporter of these products, and poultry and pork production is dominated by large corporations that are well integrated into the value chain. The market share of the 10 largest pork producers amounts to over 50 per cent. However, at the same time prices for end consumers have risen sharply. Also, the various trade and price policy interventions observed since the end of 2020 as well as strong fluctuations in the ruble exchange rate have greatly increased the business risk on the Russian meat markets. Download presentation

The event concluded with a panel discussion with the former Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, Dr Olga Trofimtseva.