Agriculture and everyday realities on small farms – An entrepreneurial challenge to farmers between the desire for autonomy and a secure existence. Two examples from east and south-east Poland

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


The small-scale agricultural structure, commonly found above all in the east and south of Poland, is seen as undesirable by Polish policy makers, who assign a high priority to the promotion of change from small to larger units. Against the background of multiple social-ecological crises, often tied to practices of intensive, industrial and large-scale agriculture, the question must be raised whether these efforts can achieve the goal of sustainability. To investigate this issue, an empirical study was carried out in two regions of a small-scale agrarian structure in the east and south-east of Poland with the aim to see what life situations and economic activities could be found in small farms and whether they could provide a counterweight to the multiple social and ecological crisis phenomena in agriculture. The present article focusses on three different economic models that were pursued by the interviewed farmers (economically successful full-time farming, part-time farming out of choice and farming out of economic necessity), on the main motivations underlying the farmers' activities (the desire for a secure existence and for autonomy) and on challenges that small scale farmers have to face with respect to the current institutional and economic-political environment for agriculture. The study's findings show that the economic activities pursued on the investigated farms can contribute to the sustainable development of rural areas only in a limited sense; what they demonstrate above all is the urgency of the change needed in the economic-political framing conditions for agriculture if nature-conserving agricultural practices, which are at the same time financially attractive for the farmers, are to make their contribution to the sustainable development of rural areas.

ZeitschriftJournal of Rural Studies
Seiten (von - bis)57-68
Anzahl der Seiten12
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 04.2019