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Farm Consolidation in the 1960s

At this stage, Bulgarian collectives were much smaller than the Soviet organizations on which they were modeled. To fulfill the ambitious goals contained in the Zhivkov Theses (January 1959) for the Third Five-Year Plan (1958-60), further consolidation was deemed necessary. This process reduced the number of collectives from 3,450 to 932, and the average size of a collective grew from 1,000 to 4,500 hectares.

In the late 1960s, an agricultural labor shortage combined with fascination for China's agrarian amalgamation to prompt further consolidation of collective farms into APKs. By the end of 1971, all of Bulgaria's 744 collectives and 56 state farms had been merged into 161 complexes, most of which were designated APK's. These units averaged 24,000 hectares and 6,500 members. The consolidation continued until there were only 143 complexes in 1977. Several complexes were larger than 100,000 hectares, and twenty-five were between 36,000 and 100,000 hectares. In the short term, they were to achieve horizontal integration by specializing in three or fewer crops and one type of livestock. In the longer term, they would be the basis for linking agriculture with manufacturing and commerce. On the political level, this consolidation was to be a symbolic merger of the agricultural and urban workers, who had remained quite distinct parts of the Bulgarian population since the nineteenth century in defiance of the theory of the unified socialist society.

The new organizations never met the higher agricultural quotas of the late 1970s, however. For some products, yield did not keep pace with investment. Overall growth in agriculture continued to fall after the creation of the APKs. And the goal of freeing farm workers to take industrial jobs was not reached. On the contrary, the annual reduction in agricultural employment dropped from 4 to 2 percent while farm labor productivity declined. As a result, agriculture's share of gross investment in fixed capital fell to 18 percent by 1976, a level last seen in the mid-1950s. In 1978 this failure triggered a new policy emphasizing smaller complexes. Reduced agricultural quotas in the Eighth Five-Year Plan (1981-85) were an admission that too much had been expected from the constant tinkering process.

Data as of June 1992