Development of Individual Farming in Georgia: Descriptive Analysis and Comparisons
The purpose of this paper is to examine the situation of individual farms in Georgia using a survey conducted in 2003, in comparison to a similar survey conducted in 1996. The basic issue investigated is the progress of the land individualization process, and the consequences of this process for the development of the agricultural sector, and more generally for the well-being of farm families and rural poverty. We found significant changes in the farm sector. In particular, average landholdings have increased, mainly through leasing of plots. There is more specialization, with some farmers not producing at all and others expanding. Profits and income have deteriorated markedly, and many producers did not even sell their produce on the market. Those producers who leased land were much more likely to sell their produce on the market and they also had higher incomes and relied less on off-farm income and social assistance payments. Still, fewer than 15% of the farmers lease land. While the average age of the population has increased, the level of schooling declined. This indicates a possible “brain drain” process of selective outmigration. Another worrying implication of the income situation is the increase in the incidence of child labor. These findings indicate that the potential of increased land transactions is still there, and a continuing specialization process that will enable successful farmers to acquire more land could improve the economic well-being of farm families even in a period of depressed produce prices.
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