Locust Control in Transition: The Loss and Reinvention of Collective Action in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan
Kazbek Toleubayev, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Kees Jansen, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Arnold van Huis, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
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The inability to organize collective action for pest control can lead to severe problems. This paper focuses on the locust management system in Kazakhstan since the formation of the Soviet State. During the Transition Period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Plant Protection Service disintegrated. The principles of central planning were replaced with individualistic approaches with little state involvement in pest control activities or pesticide regulation. The financial and ideological reasons for dismantling the existing pest control system did not recognize the potential impact that policy-induced changes in agro-ecological conditions and control practices would have on pest development. Nature hit back at the induced institutional change that occurred in the Kazakh pest control system: an extremely harmful locust plague took the country by surprise between 1998 and 2001. This paper examines from an interdisciplinary perspective the co-evolution of locust populations, land use systems, knowledge about locusts, campaigns against them, and institutions in Soviet times and in the Transition Period. It argues the need for collective action theory to extend its present focus from local level institutions for resource management to higher level social-technical systems.
collective action; institutional change; Kazakhstan; knowledge; land use; locust; plant protection; public good; Soviet Union; transition period.