Post Communist Evolution of Agricultural Water Management

During 1990s most agricultural lands and assets of dominating public farms were privatized, and entire farming activity transferred into newly evolving unregistered farms, cooperatives and agri-firms.2 For a long-period of time the rights on major recourses (farmland, irrigation facilities) and the diverse environmental rights (on use and preservation of natural resources) were not defined or were badly defined and enforced [1]. Most agrarian activities were carried out in less efficient and unsustainable structures3 with little incentives or capability for effective exploitation and conservation of water infrastructure and resources (Table 24.1).

State monopoly Irrigation Systems (IS) was reorganized into a Joint-stock company owned by the Ministry of Agriculture (MA) responsible for the management of state assets, provision of irrigation and drinking water, drainage and flood protection. Union of Water Users (UWU) was initiated and 176 Water User Associations (WUA) emerged. This collective form was unable to improve efficiency (low incentives, lack of ownership) and deal with monopoly position of 21 semi-autonomous regional branches of IS. Since 2001 the user-rights on irrigation assets of IS have been freely transferred to newly-registered WUA. Around 70 WUA are formed servicing 30% of the total irrigation area. Expected "boom" in efficiency from collective management of irrigation has not materialized because of semi-monopoly situation (terms, pricing) of regional water suppliers, few incentives for water users to innovate facilities and expand irrigation, and uncompleted privatization of state assets. Evolution of farmers and eco-associations in the country has been hampered by the big number and diversified interests of agents - different size of operation, type of farming, water needs, water impacts, preferences, age and horizon etc.

During transition public eco-policies, regulations, monitoring, and support were inefficient, inconsistent, reactive and sectoral with different agencies responsible for various aspects of water management. Investment Fund Melioration (FM) was established (disappeared in 1998) and subsidies to IS costs applied until 2004. However, the overall level of public support to agriculture and water sector has been very low. EU Special Assistance Program for Agrarian and Rural Development (SAPARD) introduced "Agro-environmental" measures but they were approved too late (end 2006) and only few pilot projects were actually supported.4

2 Until 1989 farming was carried by small number of large public farms averaging thousands of ha and livestock. By 1995 almost 1,8 million new farms appeared most of them being small-scale and (semi) subsistent. Since 1995 unregistered farms and cooperative decreased 75% and 52% while agri-firms increased 2,4 times. Currently 1,4% of farms manage 68% of farmland.

3 organizations under privatization, liquidation or reorganization; small part-time and subsistence farms; production cooperatives; huge agri-firms based on short-term lease contracts.

4 due to mismanagement SAPARD was suspended by EC (2008) and considerable funding lost.

Table 24.1 Evolution of agricultural water management in Bulgaria

Periods

Public modes

Private modes

Market modes

Transition

Organizations under

Cooperatives;

Short-term lease

(1990-2000)

privatization and

unregistered

contracts; free

reorganization; (IS);

farms; agri-

(monopoly)

regional branches of

firms; UWU;

pricing

IS; MA; FM; MA

WUA

subsidies to IS; water

use and protection

rules

Pre European Union

Ministry of Environment

Cooperatives;

Free (monopoly)

(EU) accession

and Waters (MEW);

unregistered

pricing; organic

(2001-2006)

MA; Executive

farms; agri-firms;

farming; eco

Environment Agency

newly-registered

labeling; trade

(EEA); Executive

WUA; private and

with origins,

Hydro-melioration

collective rules for

brands, and

Agency (EHMA);

water use; vertical

specific products;

assistance in WUA

integration of eco-

trade with eco-

formation; free transfer

system services;

system services;

of state irrigation

interlinked

insurance

assets to WUA; MA

contracts;

against droughts

investment in IS;

environmental

and floods

MA subsidies to

NGO's

IS; SAPARD; good

agricultural practices;

water user regulations,

bans; eco-monitoring,

information, assessment;

compensation for

natural disasters

EU membership

EU common policies

Cooperatives;

Free (monopoly)

(since 2007)

and standards; cross

unregistered

pricing; organic

compliance; National

farms; agri-firms;

farming; eco

Plan for Agrarian and

WUA; private and

labeling; trade

Rural Development

collective rules for

with origins,

(NPARD); long-term

water use; vertical

brands, and

public eco-contracts;

integration of eco-

specific products;

eco-training; emergency

system services;

trade with eco-

free irrigation;

interlinked

system services;

compensation for

contracts;

insurance

natural disasters

environmental

against droughts

NGO's

and floods

In recent years, a number of national programs have been develop,5 a system of eco-monitoring and information set up, and mandatory eco-assessment of public programs introduced. Laws, standards and institutions were harmonized with EU which introduced a modern framework for eco-governance including new rules for

5 For Preservation of environment; Development of water sector; Combating climate change; Management of lands and fights against desertification; Agrarian and rural development etc.

environment protection, integrated water management, polluter pay principle etc, and relevant institutions for controlling, monitoring and assessment (EEA, EHMA etc.). Needs to reconcile interests, share and sustain natural resources bring about special governance at watershed, regional, national and transnational scales. However, deformation of public choices by strong private interests, slow and inefficient eco-actions, and poor eco-monitoring has been common.

EU Common (agricultural, water, environmental, rural etc.) policies implementation provides considerable support for farming modernization, infrastructural development, and eco-measures.6 There is also a mandatory "cross compliance requirement" for receiving public support. That leads to enhancement of sustainability of many farms. There has been a considerable progression in implementation of public measures but it is still far below the targets.7 The state stepped in providing free irrigation in 2007 drought and compensating for flood damages (2007, 2010). Most farms cannot participate in public schemes,8 due to poor design, restricting criteria, little awareness, complicated procedures, and high related costs. Poor coordination, ineffective enforcement, and corruption are still typical for public forms.9

The restructuring of farms continues as most of them apply survival tactics rather than a long-term strategy for improving efficiency [1]. Also, a great portion of subsistence, small commercial farms, and farming cooperatives are unable to adapt to evolving market, institutional and natural environment.10 There have been emerging private modes introducing incentives and possibilities for effective water and integral eco-management (codes of behavior, cooperation, vertical integration, classical or interlinked contracts) profiting from inter-dependent activities such as farming, water use and protection, fishing, recreation, processing, marketing etc. There are good examples for introduction and enforcement of private rules for use and protection of natural resources by farmers and users, and top eco-standards by individual farms or a vertical integrator. In recent years market-driven organic farming and trade with eco-products and services appeared but it is restricted or just a part of the marketing strategy rather than a genuine eco-action. Private management is associated with improved environmental stewardship on owned and marketed resources, but less concern to manure and garbage management, over-exploitation of leased and common resources, contamination of soils and waters etc. Furthermore free market management of giant and semi-monopoly water supply, servicing and insurance companies usually comes with unfavorable pricing and terms for farmers. Consequently, only few farms purchase insurance against natural disasters (such as, draughts and floods).

6 Environmental measures account for 27% of the overall budget of NPARD (MAF).

7 In NPARD are opened 6 out of 24 measures. Target achievement for support to unfavorable regions is good, but for agri-environmental payment it is only 6% and the rest none (MAF).

8 e.g. around 16% of all farms receive area based payments and 13% get national top-ups (MAF).

9 E.g. due to organizational and financial reasons implementation of EU water monitoring programs is delayed as EEA gets no water information from Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

10 Market competition, and new EU quality, safety, and eco-standards [1] as well as challenges associated with the climate change [2].

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Emergency Preparedness

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