Organic farming, collective action, peasants, Armenia


Armenia is a landlocked country which gained its independence about 24 years ago. A big portion of population (44.2%) is still involved in agriculture and mostly consists of smallholder farmers. More than 20% of Armenias GDP comes from agriculture. The government considers organic agriculture as a priority area in the countrys agro-food policy as well as part of sustainable development. However, organic farming is still on its early stages of development just like in other Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian countries. Yet, the country already has an organic certification body which is recognized both in the US and the EU, organic supermarket in the capital city and a growing demand for organic products. Those smallholder farmers and especially the organic producers face difficulties accessing markets, gathering necessary information, meeting quality control and food safety requirements, certifying their production as organic or fair trade, accessing credits and so on. Researchers believe that smallholder agriculture can play an important role in reducing global poverty as a vast number of worlds poor are rural households that are involved in agriculture. Armenian smallholders are no exception and they face most of the same challenges and problems that peasants from other parts of the world do. This paper studies one of the ways that these challenges can be overcome, that is, collective action which has proved to be successful in many cases. Although collective action can be very useful and helpful for smallholder farmers and there is even a small successful example from the organic sector in Armenia, it is not a panacea. Organizing a collective action is not an easy task and its success depends on many factors such as small group size, clearly defined boundaries, shared norms, past successful experiences and others.

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