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Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie

The German Journal of Economic Geography

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Volume 60, Issue 1-2


Interplay between structural change in Central Asian agriculture and institutional scarcity of land and water: evidence from Tajikistan

Insa Theesfeld
  • Corresponding author
  • Insa Theesfeld, Institut für Agrar- und Ernährungswissenschaften, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Von-Seckendorff-Platz 4, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany, e-mail: insa.theesfeld@landw.uni-halle.de
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/ Frederike Klümper
  • Corresponding author
  • Frederike Klümper, Leibniz-Institut für Agrarentwicklung in Mittel- und Osteuropa, Halle, Germany
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Published Online: 2016-06-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw-2016-0003


This contribution focuses on the interaction between structural change in agriculture and the availability of key natural resources – land and water. The relationship is not unidimensional; therefore, we propose three dimensions of resource-induced structural change. The first dimension describes the links between the two critical input factors into agricultural production, namely land and water. To systematize this perspective, we use the concept of linking patterns that depict direct and indirect intersectoral linkages from a property rights perspective. Second, we examinee the dimension of how structural change in agriculture can be triggered by scarcity of natural resources. The third dimension describes structural change that may lead to overuse and scarcity. In this regard, we introduce resource scarcity not only as physical but most important as institutional scarcity. To illustrate these dimensions, we have chosen a case in Central Asia, where the availability and the control of access and withdrawal rights to land and water is of utmost importance for the agricultural sector. Tajikistan faces physical and institutional scarcity in arable land. The institutional scarcity is due to the non-transparent and costly processes that need to be followed to gain land rights. Likewise there is sufficient supply in water, in Tajikistan, but the de-facto access rights to water are limited for some groups. For instance, the post-socialist irrigation infrastructure is now inappropriate to serve all small-scale users on a canal. In the future, land use change due to a predicted increase of major investors, will have additional impact on the de-facto water rights. We conclude that a solid study not only on the physical but also on the institutional relations of agriculture to natural resources is important to come to reliable predictions of structural change in agriculture. We also show that structural change in agriculture may have wider implications for rural society that go beyond the agricultural sector.

Keywords: : Central Asia; institutional scarcity; land and water; property rights; structural change.


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-06-15

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, Volume 60, Issue 1-2, Pages 81–96, ISSN (Online) 2365-7693, ISSN (Print) 0044-3751, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw-2016-0003.

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