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Sustainability of agricultural sub-sectors in Bulgaria

Bachev, Hrabrin and Ivanov, Bodjidar and Toteva, Dessislava (2019): Sustainability of agricultural sub-sectors in Bulgaria.

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In Bulgaria, like in most countries, the comprehensive assessments on agrarian sustainability are mostly at sectoral or farm levels while there is practically no in-depth study on sustainability at sub-sector (industry) level. This paper tries to fill the gap and assess the sustainability of different sub-sectors in Bulgarian agriculture. First a holistic hierarchical framework for assessing integral, economic, social and ecological sustainability of Bulgarian agriculture is suggested including 17 principles, 35 criteria, and 46 indicators and reference values. After that, an assessment is made on the overall and aspects sustainability of major crop, livestock and mixed subsectors of Bulgarian agriculture. The assessment is based on first-hand information collected though in-depth interviews with the managers of “typical” farms in analysed industries. The study has found out that there is a considerable differentiation in the level of integral and aspects sustainability in individual sub-sectors in Bulgaria, with mixed livestock-breeding, mixed crop-growing, and perennial crops sub-sectors having the highest integral sustainability, while pigs, poultry and rabbits; vegetables, flowers and mushrooms, and mixed livestock-crops subsectors the lowest one. There are also substantial variations in the levels of economic, social and ecological sustainability of different agricultural sub-sectors and individual indicators with the highest and lowest values showing (critical) factors enhancing and deterring particular or overall sustainability of evaluated agro-industries. Results on the integral agrarian sustainability level of this study based on the micro sub-sector (farm) data are similar to the previous assessment based on the aggregate sectoral (statistical, etc.) data.

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