Smallholder Farms in Bulgaria and Their Contributions to Food and Social Security

Fredriksson, Lena, Rizov, Marian, Davidova, Sophia and Bailey, Alastair (2021) Smallholder Farms in Bulgaria and Their Contributions to Food and Social Security. Sustainability, 13 (14). p. 7635. ISSN 2071-1050

Full content URL:

Smallholder Farms in Bulgaria and Their Contributions to Food and Social Security
Published Open Access manuscript
Sust_Fredriksson_Rizov_Davidova_Bailey.pdf - Whole Document
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Bulgaria has a long tradition of smallholder farming, predominantly producing for selfconsumption.
As a result of land reform and farm restructuring, many rural households received
agricultural land. Some developed commercial farms but most households stayed as subsistence
farmers and used their small pieces of land to produce for self-consumption and market the excess
output to top up their non-farm incomes or meagre pensions. They had little capital and insecure
access to markets. The paper employs semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 10 smallholders
for obtaining detailed information about individuals’ behaviour and exploring issues in greater
detail. In particular, the study looks at the drivers of the diverse strategies pursued by smallholder
farms, their importance for household food security and incomes, and the prospects of smallholder
farms in the future, especially the possibilities for productivity increases. The Bulgarian study on
contemporary smallholder farms shows that subsistence production constitutes a valuable safety net
for households with low incomes, and therefore, it acts as an extension of the limited social security
system of the country. Despite all the challenges faced by smallholders, half of the interviewed
households succeeded to commercialise and increase marketable surplus. Policies for increased
commercialisation of smallholder farms and a structural change in agriculture should address,
besides market factors, the socioeconomic aspects which contribute to the persistence of subsistence
farming. Furthermore, when prioritising different policies, the chosen livelihood strategies of the
households should be taken into account.

Keywords:smallholders, farming, post-communist agriculture, Bulgaria
Subjects:L Social studies > L310 Applied Sociology
L Social studies > L112 Agricultural Economics
L Social studies > L600 Anthropology
L Social studies > L100 Economics
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:46210
Deposited On:25 Aug 2021 13:20

Repository Staff Only: item control page