Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900-1990

Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900-1990: The Interaction of Climate and Agricultural Policy and Their Effect on Food Problems

Nikolai M. Dronin
Edward G. Bellinger
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 386
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  • Book Info
    Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900-1990
    Book Description:

    Between 1900 and 1990 there were several periods of grain and other food shortages in Russia and the former Soviet Union, some of which reached disaster proportions resulting in mass famine and death on an unprecedented scale. New stocks of information not previously accessible as well as traditional official and other sources have been used to explore the extent to which policy and vagaries in climate conspired to affect agricultural yields. Were the leaders' (Stalin, Krushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev) policies sound in theory but failed in practice because of unpredictable weather? How did the Soviet peasants react to these changes? What impact did Soviet agriculture have on the overall economy of the country? These are all questions that are taken into account. The book is arranged in chapters representing different time periods. In each the policy of the central government is discussed followed by the climate vagaries during that period. Crop yields are then analyzed in the light of policy and climate.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-68-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Climate and agriculture in Russia
    (pp. 1-14)

    When analyzing the development of Soviet agriculture it should be borne in mind that Russia is comparatively poorly endowed in terms of agricultural land and climate and that, under any system of farming, agricultural productivity would be appreciably lower than, for example, that of the United States or Western Europe. Russian farming is characterized by its extreme northerly location. The center of Russia lies at roughly the same latitude as Hudson Bay, and St. Petersburg is actually at the same latitude as southern Alaska. Western European countries, although at the same latitude as some parts of Russia, have an unusually...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The availability and reliability of statistical agricultural data for Russia
    (pp. 15-30)

    One specific issue in retrospective analyses of Russian economic development is the availability of reliable statistical data that is freely accessible and can be used to check the claims of any researcher. The availability of Soviet agricultural statistical data at a regional level is extremely important in research on the impact of climate (mainly in the form of droughts) on agricultural production. Ideally there should be no interruptions in data sets for regions and years covered by the statistical reports. Information on agricultural land and crop areas in the regions of Russia seems to be adequately provided in Soviet official...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The pre-revolutionary period (1900–1916)
    (pp. 31-68)

    This period covers the last years of the Russian Empire. From the point of view of economic development, the pre-war period presents a continuation of the process of reform in Russian society which started with the abolition of serfdom in 1861. The process of the modernization of the country was at times held up by more conservative moves. An unprecedented growth in the population and a shortage of land in the central regions made reform very urgent. In 1904 and 1905 there were numerous incidents of peasant unrest in many provinces in European Russia. From 1906, more radical reforms were...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The post-revolutionary period (1917–1928)
    (pp. 69-108)

    This period includes three very different historical events: the socialist revolution of 1917, the civil war between 1918 and 1921, and the New Economic Policy (NEP) of 1922 to 1928. The first two events brought the country to economic destruction, while the third was a frantic attempt by Lenin to find a way out of the desperate economic situation. Indeed, the NEP did produce considerable growth in the Soviet economy, including both industry and agriculture. It is likely that by the end of the NEP period the country was approaching the pre-war level. However, the NEP was only a temporary...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The collectivization of Soviet agriculture (1929–1940)
    (pp. 109-154)

    In contrast with the previous decade, this period saw a very centralized, autocratic development of the economy. During the 1930s, a Socialist economic system was being constructed, the first in the world. This new system was characterized by the priority it gave to the development of heavy industry, its extremely centralized management, the drafting of detailed five-year plans for all industrial and agricultural branches, strong administrative control over the realization of these plans, and the rapid mobilization of massive human and material resources when needed for the most important Soviet projects. Simultaneously, the actual performance of the Soviet economy became...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The post-war recovery period (1945–1954)
    (pp. 155-170)

    The target of the first post-war five-year plan was to reach the pre-war level of the economy. However, the process of economic recovery took about ten years. The strategies adopted by the Soviet authorities for economic and political processes hardly differed from those of the 1930s. The same forcible mobilization of human and material resources for the implementation of several grandiose projects, and the same harshness of Soviet legislation were all typical for the period. The last decade of Stalin’s rule was still characterized by poverty for the majority of Soviet people (still mainly rural). Indeed, no modernization was proposed...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The virgin lands campaign (1955–1964)
    (pp. 171-218)

    This period covers Nikita Khrushchev’s reforms after he became general secretary of the Communist Party after Stalin’s death in 1953. The new Soviet leader had very enthusiastic ideas for modernizing the country. He replaced the strongly centralized ministerial structure of the Soviet Union with 89 regional organs called sovnarkhozes (Councils of the People’s Economy). He permitted the Soviet press to criticize the past, and freed political prisoners. Although he still emphasized the priority of heavy industry he paid more attention to the development of light industry and agriculture. Progress was made in terms of wages and standards of living. Some...

  13. CHAPTER 8 The period of agricultural intensification (1965–1975)
    (pp. 219-266)

    The first five years of this period are widely recognized as the most fruitful in the post-war history of the USSR. The Soviet government rejected the kind of frenetic and voluntaristic methods of implementing economic reforms that had been seen in the Khrushchev era. The new leaderships under Brezhnev and Kosygin, being more technocratic, promised much less than Khrushchev. The goal for the construction of Communism was postponed until the distant future. Instead, the more modest goal of constructing “developed Socialism” was announced. The plan targets for five-year periods became more realistic. The Soviet Union planned to keep industrial growth...

  14. CHAPTER 9 The period of agricultural stagnation (1976–1990)
    (pp. 267-334)

    The period of so-called developed Socialism was later, under Gorbachev, renamed “the period of stagnation”. During this period the Soviet Union developed as an industrial power able to compete with the USA and Western European countries. Due to the discovery of large oil and gas fields in Western Siberia, the Soviet Union strengthened its position in the world energy sector in the 1970s. The fuel industry started to play the role of the main sponsor of all important Soviet industrial and agricultural projects. However, domestic capacity and technology were not sufficient and the USSR was obliged to purchase pipes, gas...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 335-340)

    Russian farming has always been unstable because of its complex climatic conditions. Russia’s records of the difficulties caused by weather vagaries are impressive. During the last hundred years the country went through at least 30 years of severe drought. Some years were also problematic due to severe frosty winters or summers that were too rainy and cold. Thus, an average decade in the history of Russian agriculture comprises two or three years of large droughts (sometimes occurring in a row) and one year of crop failure caused by other unusual weather conditions. In the 1970s, for example, there were three...

  16. Glossary
    (pp. 341-344)
  17. References
    (pp. 345-360)
  18. Index
    (pp. 361-366)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 367-367)