A Revival of Agriculture

L. Dorenskii: Nighttime Grain Harvest (1955) Nighttime Grain Harvest on the Virgin Lands of Kazakhstan Source: Sergei Morozov: Sovetskaia khudozhestvennaia fotografiia. Moscow: Iskusstvo. 1958.
L. Dorenskii: Nighttime Grain Harvest (1955)
Nighttime Grain Harvest on the Virgin Lands of Kazakhstan
Source: Sergei Morozov: Sovetskaia khudozhestvennaia fotografiia. Moscow: Iskusstvo. 1958.

Stalin’s single minded focus on the development of industry in Soviet Russia had left the agricultural sectors in disarray. Russia had been, and was unable to meet its food needs for the entire nation.  As Khrushchev solidified his power, he began to take steps to become agriculturally self-sustained. His radical plan for increasing agricultural output was called the “Virgin Lands Campaign.”

The Virgin Lands Campaign had lofty goals. When implemented the campaign aimed at providing an extra thirty million hectares of cultivated land in the southern sections of Kazakhstan and Siberia (1). During the first few years after its implementation, the lands cultivated under the Virgin Lands Campaign produced some the highest yields that Soviet Russia had ever seen. Agricultural development was also joined by new industrial development as well as infrastructure. Railroads were built to connect the new farmlands to the rest of Russia. However, by 1960 the newly cultivated lands were already stripped of any nutrients. No crop rotation had been implemented to revitalize the land. Dust and erosion also became major problems.

Despite these draw backs, Khrushchev had already solidified himself in power. The early successes of the Virgin Lands campaign played an important role in Khrushchev’s rise to power. With a new leader in power Russia was well on its way to a society not ruled by Stalinist policies.

 

1. William C. Fuller, Jr., “The Great Fatherland War and Late Stalinism,” in Russia: A History, by Gregory L. Freeze. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 412.

Picture: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1954tselina&Year=1954&navi=byYear

 

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3 Responses to A Revival of Agriculture

  1. mwill17 says:

    Its amazing that despite the fact that the Russian lands had been decimated during World War II they were able to begin growing crops again. However its strange how after so many different agricultural reforms the Russians still had trouble with growing enough food to sustain themselves, one would think that they would have figured out a system that works.

  2. seeingred says:

    The fact that The Virgin Lands Campaign even had to be enacted is a great symbol of how quickly Stalinist reforms were enacted. In Stalin’s efforts to modernize Russia and implement heavy industrialization to establish the country as a superpower, he failed to recognize that the food supply needed to come from the farmlands. Clearly international recognition rather than domestic bliss was Stalin’s priority.

  3. A. Nelson says:

    I like how this post connects Khrushchev’s “Virgin Lands” program to post-war economic recovery and reform by citing the article about the (necessary) extension of the railway into Kazakhstan. Nicely done.

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