Thursday 8
The adaptive cycle
Graeme Cumming
› 15:45 - 16:40 (55min)
The collective debate: evaluating resilient social-ecological patterns of the agriculture sector in northern Tajikistan
Corrie Hannah  1@  
1 : Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University  -  Website
Levine Science Research Center Box 90328 Durham, NC 27708, USA -  États-Unis

Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, emerging states across Central Asia faced a period of economic and institutional restructuring. In Tajikistan's agriculture sector, this included a new decentralized private land tenure system to replace the state-owned collective model, sustainable land management (SLM) policies (e.g., water conservation, crop rotation, intercropping), and a series of Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS), all of which targeted a myriad of social, economic and environmental challenges. These initiatives were largely driven by global norms, as per the Millennium Development Goals, World Bank, UNDP, USAID, GIZ, etc. in the format of sustainable development frameworks, agendas, and donor aid. What are the barriers to improved agricultural development? Why do they exist? This study undertakes an evaluation of the agriculture sector in the Sughd Oblast region of northern Tajikistan through the lens of resilience theory.

The research approach was based on a participatory snowball (non-probabilistic) sampling approach involving ethnographic observations, qualitative interviews (n=14) and quantitative surveys (n=177) of stakeholders. It consisted of three steps: Step (1) a review of the three components of sustainable development (society, ecology, economy) in Sughd Oblast from 1991 to the present; Step (2) an assessment (conducted in 2010-2011) of SLM policies and their associated effects on the adoption of SLM practices, and; Step (3) data analysis using the adaptive cycle framework (exploitation, conservation, release, and reorganization) to develop a conceptual model of dynamic patterns of the agriculture system in relation to sustainable development.

Results show that a decentralized pseudo-privatized system now exists. Small plots of land have been assigned to individuals and families (private ownership). Yet, overall production continues to operate at the community scale via the Soviet-era collective system, under the legislative auspices of a dekhan farm or producer cooperative. Efficiency is improved when people are specialized to perform a specific function and information received and decisions made occur at the collective center. Although the local market economy is improving and agricultural productivity and exports have increased, socio-economic conditions among land users remain poor; labor is arduous, hours are long and salaries are minimal. In addition, SLM is rarely practiced, farming technology is outdated, and the irrigation infrastructure is deteriorating, all contributing to worsening ecological conditions, e.g., increased soil salinization, soil erosion, water scarcity, and a loss of biodiversity. 

By framing the dynamics of this social-ecological system in the context of adaptive cycles, distinct socio-economic, ecological, and institutional drivers emerge. Institutional procedures and land use practices used during the Soviet era are resilient irrespective of the ‘new' privatized system and improved economic conditions. They have persisted in spite of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the subsequent civil war (1992-1997), and considerable sustainable development investment. With the focus on increasing production and financial capacities of the small land holder, resilient structures driving the agricultural system are overlooked. The underlying reasons for the high resiliency of the collective system will be presented, followed by a discussion of whether or not an SLM-based collective approach could be possible for this region.

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