Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900–1990

The Interaction of Climate and Agricultural Policy and Their Effect on Food Problems
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Publication date: 
383 pages

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.

List of Figures
List of Tables

Chapter 1. Introduction: climate and agriculture in Russia
Chapter 2. The availability and reliability of statistical agricultural data for Russia
2.1. The pre-revolutionary period (before 1916)
2.2. The post-revolutionary decade (1917–28)
2.3. The Stalin era (1929–53)
2.4. The post-Stalin period (after 1953)
2.5. Summary
Chapter 3. The pre-revolutionary period (1900–16)
3.1. Major developments in agriculture
3.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
3.3. Food problems
3.4. Summary
Chapter 4. The post-revolutionary period (1917–28)
4.1. Major developments in agriculture
4.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
4.3. Food problems
4.4. Summary
Chapter 5. The collectivization of Soviet agriculture (1929–40)
5.1. Major developments in agriculture
5.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
5.3. Food problems
5.4. Summary
Chapter 6. The post-war recovery period (1945–54)
6.1. Major developments in agriculture
6.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
6.3. Food problems
6.4. Summary
Chapter 7. The virgin lands campaign (1955–64)
7.1. Major developments in agriculture
7.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
7.3. Food problems
7.4. Summary
Chapter 8. Period of intensification of the Soviet agriculture (1965–75)
8.1. Major developments in agriculture
8.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
8.3. Food problems
8.4. Summary
Chapter 9. Period of stagnation of the Soviet agriculture (1976–90)
9.1. Major developments in agriculture
9.2. Weather variations and agricultural production
9.3. Food problems
9.4. Summary


"The book's most important contribution is its thorough and systematic overview of climatic changes, year by year, and their impact on the performance of Russian and Soviet agriculture. Given the profound impact of food supply problems at so many critical junctures in Russian and Soviet history, this thorough and rigorous survey deserves to be welcomed by all historians of Russia and the Soviet Union."
"The "intrusion" of two specialists in environmental policies into historical studies of Russia should only be welcomed. Commonly for each chapter, the section on "weather variations and agricultural production," is the most interesting and contains the most new information. In these sections the authors fully exploit their expertise, usually lacking among humanist historians, and uncover technical sources (typically reports published by the Hydrometeorological Service) which are almost destined to be ignored by historians. The authors carefully try to identify to what extent each case of agricultural and food crisis in Soviet history was caused by climatic or political reasons."