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Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900-1990

The Interaction of Climate and Agricultural Policy and Their Effect on Food Problems

Edited by Edward Bellinger and Nikolai Dronin

Publication Year: 2005

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.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-xiii

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pp. xv-xvii

Russia belongs among those countries that are the most vulnerable to climate variability due to unfavorable natural conditions. This, together with a weak agricultural sector as well as poor mechanisms of social insurance, has frequently resulted in crisis situations. During the last hundred years the country has faced numerous...

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Chapter 1: Introduction: climate and agriculture in Russia

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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...

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Chapter 2: The availability and reliability of statistical agricultural data for Russia

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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...

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Chapter 3: The pre-revolutionary period (1900–1916)

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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...

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Chapter 4: The post-revolutionary period (1917–1928)

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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...

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Chapter 5: The collectivization of Soviet agriculture (1929–1940)

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pp. 109-153

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...

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Chapter 6: The post-war recovery period (1945–1954)

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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...

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Chapter 7: The virgin lands campaign (1955–1964)

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pp. 171-217

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...

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Chapter 8: The period of agricultural intensification (1965–1975)

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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...

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Chapter 9: The period of agricultural stagnation (1976–1990)

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pp. 267-333

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...

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pp. 335-339

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...


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pp. 341-343


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pp. 345-360


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pp. 361-366

Back Cover

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p. 386-386

E-ISBN-13: 9786155053689
Print-ISBN-13: 9789637326103

Page Count: 386
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1st