Agriculture had always been a problem for the Soviets. Thus, after Stalin died in 1953, Khrushchev became the head of the communist party and decided that Russia needed to solve its agriculture problems. As a result, Khrushchev came up with the Virgin Lands Campaign and he launched it in 1954. Khrushchev was trying to solve the severe shortage of grains. “Decades of misreported agriculture yields from across the Soviet Union”(Dronin, 172) helped lead to this shortage of grain.
The Virgin Lands campaign concentrated on bringing under cultivation the semi-arid territories of unused lands in Kazakhstan. It was a huge operation that was designed to open a vast tract of steppe land. “The campaign bore the stamp of Khrushchev and his efforts to rekindle popular identification with and participation in state economic initiatives” (17 Moments). As a result, it led to pressure within the party leadership.
Numerous men and women volunteered to work and settle on the steppe lands of Kazakhstan. Khrushchev promoted the campaign as a Leninist response to the crisis of collectivized agriculture. The collective farms were too ineffective to feed the Soviet population. Malenkov proposed to solve the problem by raising prices and by enlarging the peasants’ private plots on which they grew vegetables.
The Virgin Lands Campaign was Khrushchev’s plan to boost the Soviet Union’s agricultural production in order to alleviate the food shortages plaguing the Soviet populace. The Virgin Lands Program had many problems such as the state found it crucial to send militia as a supplement to the local police forces to alleviate the transition and clear the area of any native nomads for the resettlement of Russian farmers and peasant families.
Nikolai M. Dronin, Edward G. Bellinger, Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900-1990: The Interaction of Climate and Agricultural Policy and Their Effect on Food Problems (Herndon: Central European University Press, 2005).