The agricultural sector declined after the Soviet Union’s collapse and this is a result of the transition from a state economy to a market economy as well as from centralized to decentralized planning.
Effects of the Decline on the People in CIS:
- Since the majority of the rural populations are excluded and isolated from information, they have had the most trouble adjusting. As a result, many people have also had problems with their health and finances, which cuts into their productivity and ability to maintain a living.
- This social and economic instability makes it hard for many to focus on much more than surviving. The majority of the CIS population have either an average education or higher, which gives them that much more potential to succeed at sustainable agriculture if given the opportunity.
- Alcohol abuse has been cited to be one of the main obstacles to innovation. Although the size of the problem varies from region to region, it has been blamed for some of the populations declining health and economy.
Problems facing the Environment in the Common Wealth of Independent States:
- Severe damage to the soil caused from over plowing the land.
- Toxins, salts and radioactive materials polluting the soil.
- Ecosystems are no longer self-sustaining. Because agricultural development has been in place for so long, nature has adjusted and many species have become part of the agro-ecosystem to the extent that they are dependent on human activities. Some fish can no longer reproduce naturally and migrating birds have come to depend on agricultural fields for their food.
The definition of sustainable agriculture
Sustainable agriculture refers to the land being useful for generations to come and allowing the balance between nature, human activity and technology. To continue to be sustainable the land should benefit everyone socially, economically and ecologically. Sustainability should then go beyond economic goals and seek to balance communities and nature.
Sustainable Agriculture Strategies and Solutions:
The strategies have been divided into “simple” and “complex” categories.
- Simple is based on restructuring existing small farms and households who do not need large arable fields. They also do not need huge financial investments and could develop into intensive small-scale operations. This simple strategy would be oriented towards local markets, which would increase both its competitiveness and effectiveness. Another benefit to this method is that it does not depend on external or scientific knowledge.
- The complex strategy needs bigger financial investments as well as more labor and land. The investments could be paid off faster by using the landscape for both agricultural and recreational purposes. The economic efficiency needs to be achieved by alleviating the landscape damage, which then decreases the environmental and social risks, making it more attractive to investors.
Agrarian market development in the Common Wealth of Independent States faces the challenge of becoming both environmentally friendly and economically profitable. To do this a proper balance of market incentives and state supported strategies needs to be sought.