|Title||Assessing the ability of public policy to enable or constrain the resilience of the grain farming system in North-East Bulgaria|
|Author(s)||Peneva, Mariya; Valchovska, S.; Buitenhuis, Yannick|
|Event||The 173rd EAAE Seminar of the European Association of Agricultural Economists, Bucharest, 2019-09-26/2019-09-27|
Public Administration and Policy
|Publication type||Contribution in proceedings|
|Abstract||This analysis assesses the extent to which Bulgarian agricultural policy including associated implementation schemes under pillar 1 and 2 of the CAP affect the resilience of the grain farming system in the North-East region of Bulgaria. Grain production is a traditional one for the Bulgarian economy as the importance of it increases after joining EU. North-East Bulgaria is of crucial importance, known as “the granary of Bulgaria” where on an average 50% of national grain output is produced.
The study uses resilience theory, which draws on concepts from ecology and systems theory. It provides a basis for examining the capacity of a bio-based production system (e.g. farming systems) to deal with changes in its environment (Ge et al., 2016). One way of conceptualising resilience is through the three types of response to changes in the environment – robustness, adaptability, and transformability (Anderies et al., 2013). Each type reflects the different extent of adjustment implemented by the system in response to the changes. Robustness represents the ability to persist external change, while adaptability includes small changes. Both types aim to help the system maintain the same functionalities. Transformability represents major changes that lead to rearranging the system towards a new form and new functionalities. Each type of resilience response is examined through four characteristics, including: 1) for robustness: short-term focus; protecting the status quo; buffer resources; and other modes of risk management; 2) for adaptability: middle- to long-term focus, flexibility, variety and tailor-made responses, and social learning; and 3) for transformability: long-term focus, dismantling incentives that support the status quo, in-depth learning, and enhancing and accelerating niche innovations.
Agricultural policy in Bulgaria is determined by the CAP and the national policy that is in line with it. Historically, the CAP is based on the assumption that farmers need protection from external changes (Lovec, 2016). Recent reforms have introduced aims for increasing competitiveness and to enhance the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of agriculture. These aims have expanded the idea of achieving resilient farming systems beyond the persistence to external changes.
This research uses an analytic framework drawn on resilience theory and developed as part of a research project: “Sustainable Resilient EU farming Systems (SURE Farm)”. The policy resilience assessment tool (ResAT) encompasses robustness, adaptability and transformability in a framework that helps evaluating the influence of policy formulations on the resilience of farming systems. Respectively, the ResAT assesses whether policy goals and instruments enable or constrain farmers’ resilience enhancing strategies and resources (Termeer et al., 2018). The assessment is done by assigning scores to the mentioned key characteristics that enable the resilience-enhancing capacity of policies. The scoring makes it possible to assess the extent, to which the national and EU policy applied in Bulgaria have been supporting or inhibiting the resilience of the grain farming system. This quantitative assessment of resilience characteristics is used in the development of a modified adaptive capacity wheel, which is a visual instrument for assessing the ability of institutions and policies to support resilience (Gupta et al., 2010).
Empirical data for this analysis is provided by policy documents at the EU and the national level. The texts are analysed through qualitative techniques that help connecting the policy documents with the concepts and categories from the framework. It starts by considering the most relevant document - the Law for support of agricultural producers. Other relevant documents are added to the analysis until saturation is reached and adding a new document does not lead to additional insight on the examined concepts and categories (Creswell, 2014).
Among the three types of resilience – robustness, adaptability and transformability, the policies enable the robustness of the grain farming system. All four characteristics of robustness score high in terms of enabling resilience. This means that short-term orientation is prevailing within the agriculture and rural development policy.
The adaptability characteristics of the policy scored lower than robustness. Nevertheless, three of the four characteristics – middle- to long-term, flexibility and variety of tailormade responses scored above average in enabling resilience. This means that the policies have a relatively strong potential for supporting the adaptation of large-scale crop farmers towards desired directions of development. It provides a good range of flexibility instruments that aim to benefit either the farmers or achieve positive externalities for the environment and natural resources (agri-environment).
Transformability received the lowest scores among the three resilience types. This suggests that the policies are weak in supporting substantial change of the Bulgarian grain farming system over the long-run. The scores for all characteristics are below average. These results suggest that the policies are not strongly committed to transforming the farming system towards new forms and functionalities.