Land Fragmentation, Cropland Abandonment, and Land Market Operation in Albania
Albania’s radical farmland distribution is credited with averting an economic crisis and social unrest during the transition. But many believe it led to a holding structure too fragmented to be efficient, and that public efforts to consolidate plots are needed to lay the foundation for greater rural productivity. Farm-level data from the 2005 Albania LSMS allow us to explore this quantitatively. We find no support for the argument that fragmentation reduces productivity. However, producers fail to utilize about 10% of the country’s productive land, and this land has, in the majority of cases, been idle for at least 5years. Farmers quote inefficiently-small plots as the reason for this in very few cases, casting doubt on the scope for land consolidation to solve this issue. Instead, the data are consistent with the notion of land market imperfections, which can be traced to gaps in the legal and policy framework, as well as inefficiencies in registry operations, leading to land abandonment on a large scale. To maintain the productive potential of Albania’s rural economy and, if and when needed, the ability to conduct consolidation in a cost-effective and sustainable manner, it will be critical to complement the emphasis on consolidation with an effort to address those gaps and inefficiencies on a priority basis.
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