‘Agriculture was always the basic weakness of the Soviet economy.’ Assess the validity to this view of the Soviet economy during the Stalin years

At the very beginning, the course of the Soviet economy was started with a series of five-year plans. Previously it was an agrarian economy and later shifted to an industrial economy by 1950.

Soviet agriculture

  • Agriculture in the Soviet Union was mostly organized on the basis of public or state ownership.
  • Limited cultivation was practiced in private lands. It was considered an inefficient sector of the economy.
  • In the very beginning, the food tax was levied.
  • Between 1920 and 1930, the agricultural output was severely affected due to the forced collectivization and class war against “kulaks” under Stalinism. As a result, it caused famine.
  • Several reforms were ratified by Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, and Mikhail Gorbachev to sustain the inefficiencies of the Stalinist agricultural system.
  • The co-existence of market mechanism and the central policy planning was not allowed by the Marxist–Leninist ideology. As a consequence, the productive agricultural land was ignored or assigned with a limited role.
  • The climatic condition and unskilled worker affected the overall productivity of agricultural land.

Overall agriculture

The condition of Soviet agriculture was not uniformly bad. The agricultural output in some places of the state made the Soviet Union one of the leading producers of cereal crops in the world. A record harvest was noticed in 1978. Other than the cereals, crops like cotton, sugar beets, potatoes, were also produced.

Question for UPSC Mains:
'Agriculture was always the basic weakness of the Soviet economy.' Assess the validity to this view of the Soviet economy during the Stalin years.

Published: March 21, 2017 | Modified:September 4, 2020

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