Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Linking patterns of property rights in land and water: Understanding effects of reviving agricultural cooperatives in Uzbekistan

The recent agricultural policy in Uzbekistan promotes cooperative as a new organizational form of production of fruits and vegetables. This policy formally promotes self-organization of land/water users and proclaims some benefits by promising to secure land lease rights, rights to independently determine crop structure, and economic incentives via specific subsidies. The research problem lies in the need to assess institutional fitness of the policy to existing effective rules, as well as the eventual changes in land and water use. General research questions address: the specifics of the policy implementation; the institutional compatibility of the new policy with existing formal and informal rules; the potential effect of the new policy on current formal and informal property rights in land and water. The author will employ the mix of longitudinal and comparative research designs to test two hypotheses: top-down policy implementation helps to achieve policy goals; cooperatives decrease the mismatch between formal rights and customary claims of the farmers in land and water.

Qualitative data collection methods include in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders: farmers and smallholders, policymakers, experts. Additional survey of the farmers, members of the selected cooperatives, will serve to capture the changes in land and water use. Analysis of the legal documents, pertaining to regulation of the activities of farmers and smallholders, will help to understand how the policy on cooperatives is in line with a general trend(s) in the agricultural policy development. Two locations in Samarqand and Tashkent provinces are preliminary selected as case studies with a focus on the reasons for the similarities and differences between them.

This dissertation is part of the research project SUSADICA