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Abstract

This article evaluates the recent evolution of farm structure in Kazakhstan's grain region against the reform objectives of the 1990s and the family farm theory that underpinned the latter. In the study region, super-large agroholdings, large-scale enterprises and smaller individual farms emerged side-by-side and now compete for resources in a homogenous production environment. Drawing on two survey rounds of farm-level data, we find that the agroholdings display the highest factor productivity and are the most competitive on land and labour markets among all farms. However, we also find constant technical returns to scale across farm types and a layer of smaller family farms that is highly competitive on land markets. It is thus too early to conclude that large corporate farms are economically superior to individual (family) farms. But the present analysis clearly calls into question that family farms are a per-se desirable or even the only viable way of organising agricultural production. A revision of the received family farm theory may thus be due.

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