Agrarian Reforms of the 20th Century in Russia: Impacts on Agricultural Sector and Food Security

Agrarian Reforms of the 20th Century in Russia: Impacts on Agricultural Sector and Food Security

Olga Pasko (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia), Natalia Staurskaya (Omsk State Technical University, Russia), Alexey Gorodilov (Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia) and Alexander Zakharchenko (Institute of the Problems of Northern Development, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1042-1.ch010

Abstract

Current political and economic reforms, as well as the development of market relations and private property rights, need a retrospect to the experience of the past. An ambitious reform implemented by Russian public entities in the early 20th century was a result of a compromise between the government, society, and individuals. The goals of the reforms offered by Pyotr Stolypin were similar to those of the contemporary ones. Stolypin's reforms aimed at the substitution of group type of land use by public property. The reforms were not evolutional but were motivated by the explosive political and social-economic situation. Another agrarian reform took place in the early 1990s in the Soviet bloc, including the USSR. It aimed at state land property and a centrally planned agrarian economy, the domination of big manufacturers like collective and communal farms, and state pricing control. Despite similar basic principles, the states chose different strategies for the implementation of agrarian reforms.
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Background

A large-scale agrarian reform started in Russia in the beginning of XX century based on a compromise between the government and public society. Its goal was to increase manufacturing of high-quality products and minimize living and materialized labor, as well as reduce damage to the environment. To achieve the goal, the following tasks were supposed to be accomplished:

  • Radical change in land relations

  • Improvement of the organization of production and ensuring stable agricultural production

  • Development of optimal conditions for life and work of rural population

  • Equal distribution of human resources across the territory of Russia, including those people who were meant to protect eastern parts of the country from China and other countries of Asia

  • Rational use of natural and production resources, particularly, land.

The reform started in 47 territories of the European part Russia. It dealt with political, economic, social, technical, technological, scientific, educational, and other aspects. The reform aimed at dynamic development of financial sector, infrastructure (road and housing construction), education (new universities, including engineering and pedagogical ones), medicine (universities, hospitals, and pharmacies), among other sectors. Transformation of agricultural and social institutions was supported by the Government. Government expenditures on land management grew exponentially from 2.3 million rubles in 1906 up to 14.1 million rubles in 1914.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agrarian Reform: A set of measures taken by the state to redistribute land ownership in favor of direct producers, increase their interest in the results of labor, increase in production.

Stolypin’s Agrarian Reform: The reform of peasant allotment land ownership in Russia. It is named after its ideologist Petr Stolypin. Permitting the exit from the peasant community to the farms and cuts, strengthening the Peasant Bank, compulsory land management and strengthening the resettlement policy (relocating the rural population of the central regions of Russia for permanent residence to sparsely populated districts – Siberia, the Far East) were aimed at eliminating peasant land shortage, intensifying economic activities peasantry on the basis of private ownership of land, and increasing the marketability of the peasant economy.

Province: In Russia, an administrative division, part of the empire, entrusted to the governor.

Economic Crisis: A sharp deterioration in the economic state of the country, manifested in a significant decline in production; violation of existing production relations; bankruptcy of enterprises; and rising unemployment. The result of the economic crisis is a decline in the living standards of the population and a decrease in the real gross national product.

Agro-Industrial Complex: A set of industries (enterprises) whose activities are directly or indirectly aimed at the production of food or other products produced from agricultural raw materials.

State Policy: A set of the basic principles, norms, and activities for the implementation of state power.

Post-Soviet Space: Also known as the republics of the former USSR, the CIS countries and the Baltic states, are independent states that left the Soviet Union during its collapse in 1991. The post-Soviet states are the subject of various studies in the field of geography, history, politics, economics, and culture.

Efficiency of Agricultural Production: An effectiveness of the financial and economic activities of an economic entity in agriculture, ability to ensure the achievement of high rates of productivity, efficiency, profitability, and product quality. Criterion is the maximum production of agricultural products at the lowest cost of living and materialized labor. It is measured using a system of indicators, including labor productivity, capital productivity, cost, profitability, crop yields, and animal productivity.

Economic Reforms: The changes in the business system, economic management, ways and methods of economic policy implementation. Economic reforms are carried out under conditions when low efficiency of the economic system is revealed, economic crises occur, market does not sufficiently satisfy the needs of people, country lags behind in its development from other countries.

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