UBC Theses and Dissertations
One explanation for why farmers produce cotton collectively in post-Soviet Tajikistan Kassam, Shinan N.
In post-Soviet Tajikistan, a heavy concentration on collective cotton production is argued to be based upon vested interests, a cash short economy, historical and political economy reasons. Given challenges in the set up of a functional land cadastral system, access to rural credit can be facilitated through the currency that raw cotton provides as collateral against production loans. While there are other relatively more profitable options for agricultural production, a certain amount of land is placed under cotton, in order to secure financing for non-cotton production. The lender advances credit for cotton production, but a portion of this credit is diverted out of cotton and into non-cotton production. Non-cotton production is not collateralized and results in a private gain for individual members within the “collective”. The lender has full knowledge of this diversion and compensates by pushing a higher level of in kind credit than is needed for the amount of land dedicated to cotton. Accumulating “debt” has become a defining feature of the cotton sector, but I argue that an appropriate definition is non conventional. This is particularly important given that loans are extended over consecutive seasons despite accumulating “debt”. “Debt” can more accurately be defined as the cost of doing business for the lender, who ties together the services of loan provision with that of marketing cotton. Using original copies of farm invoices, state statistics, key informant accounts, as well as secondary survey data, I argue that there is ostensibly little difference in the standard of living between farmers engaged in diversified cropping systems (cotton and non-cotton) and those engaged solely in non-cotton production. In an economy where markets for credit and productive inputs are thin and erratic, the manner in which credit is advanced plays a large role in fostering this indifference. This argument is somewhat different than the prevailing view, which takes the position that cotton “debt” is a constraining factor in the development of the agricultural sector in Tajikistan. One explanation for why Tajik farmers collectively produce cotton at a loss is that it is privately profitable to do so.
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