In the interview, the famous economist E. V. Serova talks about the features of the life path of the agrarian scientist and describes the stages of her scientific career — studies at the Faculty of Economics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, work at the Agrarian Institute headed by the Academician A. A. Nikonov and in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Government in the early 1990s, and later in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The interview pays particular attention to the research directions at the Institute for Agrarian Studies and to the development of agrarian education at the Higher School of Economics. Based on the ideas of randomness and regularity in the choice of the scientific profession, on the meaning of controllability and spontaneity of social-economic processes in the course of agrarian reforms, Serova identifies the system features of the strategic transformations of agriculture and rural development in Russia and abroad, which are related not only to economy but also to policy and culture. At the same time, Serova emphasizes the importance of social institutions and historical-cultural patterns of the rural residents’ behavior, on which the efficiency of the state measures in market transformations largely depends. The final part of the interview focuses on the prospects for the development of agrarian science and education, in particular on the need for a new paradigm for the development of rural areas in Russia.
The current social-economic situation in Russia poses new challenges for industries, agriculture, and services. One of these challenges is the search for alternative sources of food supply in regions and the strengthening of food security under the import substitution policy. In agriculture, the emphasis is placed on the development of both main branches and those previously considered additional. At the same time, there are attempts to diversify economies of the single-industry regions in order to ensure their ‘sustainable’ development. One of the regions representing all the above trends is the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region. Federal and regional authorities strive to reduce its budget dependence on the oil and gas rent and to invest in the traditional sectors of polar agriculture such as reindeer breeding and fishery. The article is based on the results of the author’s field studies in the summer of 2021 and describes the social-economic situation in Yamal. The author pays particular attention to agriculture and indigenous peoples of Siberia, to the history and main trends in the development of the nomadic and semi-nomadic groups of Yamal — to identify promising directions and main barriers for the development of regional agriculture.
The article aims at identifying features of grain production in Siberia and Kazakhstan during the campaign for developing virgin and fallow lands (second half of the 1950s) and subsequent decades of the Soviet and post-Soviet era; such features determined the results and consequences of the Virgin Project in 1954. The author identifies objective and subjective factors affecting the adoption and realization of the virgin land program; considers general and particular practices of plowing new lands; describes the dynamics of sown areas for crops, grain productivity and gross production, its qualitative characteristics in Siberia and Kazakhstan. The author argues that the campaign for developing virgin and fallow lands was a means of N. S. Khrushchev’s struggle for power, which explains its excessively large scale and relatively long duration. The author shows that the virgin land campaign is more significant for the history of Kazakhstan than for the history of Siberia. Due to the new land development in Kazakhstan, the sown areas of crops, primarily wheat, significantly increased; the network of large agricultural enterprises expanded; the infrastructure of agricultural production started to develop. In 1991, these production capacities became the foundations of the contemporary economy of independent Kazakhstan. In Siberia, the sown area of crops has decreased since the mid-1960s, but the gross grain harvest has grown, which indicates opportunities for intensive farming, and such opportunities are gradually realized.
The article considers the impact of the Soviet state agrarian policy on the agricultural production in the Novosibirsk Region. In 1930s, the government was not far-sighted: for short-term gains (growth of production volumes) the long-term prospects were sacrificed. The ever-growing state plans for sowing and harvesting prevented the development of the rational agricultural system in Siberia. By the early 1940s, in most collective farms of the Novosibirsk Region, elementary agrotechnical rules were broken: fallow lands were reduced, deadlines for agricultural work were not kept, rules for crop rotation and seed production were ignored. Therefore, the long-term clogging and depletion of soils, among other factors, determined extremely low grain yields during the Great Patriotic War. In the prewar period, the state agrarian policy led to the rapid depletion of the agricultural production in the Novosibirsk Region. By 1941, the region was in a critical situation of an acute shortage of seeds, food, and livestock feed. In 1942, the Soviet government continued its blind sowing policy and obviously underestimated the negative impact of such a policy on production under the reduction in labor and inputs. Planning errors led to a sharp reduction in gross grain harvests from 1942. Until the end of the war, the Soviet agriculture was negatively affected by the short-sighted state policies that significantly reduced possibilities for the productive use of the local agricultural potential.
Many countries face a shortage of labor resources and try to provide agricultural employment by attracting labor migrants from abroad. A ‘review’ of the role of labor migration in the development of agriculture requires a thorough analysis of migration statistics, since illegal migration is widespread, and there are no statistical records on seasonal workers. Therefore, migrants seem to make up an insignificant part of those employed in agriculture. However, the current global situation —the coronavirus pandemic—revealed a shortage of workplaces for labor migrants. In the pre-pandemic period, millions of foreign workers entered the Russian Federation every year. Under the pandemic, to attract migrants to agriculture and food production system of other countries became difficult, which highlighted their important role in the economic development. Therefore, the impact of the pandemic on the foreign labor market entered the agenda of international politics and measures to combat the covid-19 that limited migration, thus, determining a shortage of workers in agriculture and the underestimation of their contribution to national economies of other countries.
The article considers the main ideas of the outstanding Russian economist and publicist V.P. Vorontsov as represented in his work Peasant Community published in 1892. This book provides a detailed examination of the zemstvo statistical data in order to refute the theory of the rudimentary nature of the peasant community. To prove his ideas, Vorontsov used the objectivist approach in the selection and presentation of the data. He showed that in the post-reform era, the peasant community not only kept its functions of protecting the rural world but also developed new means for implementing the principles of equality and justice and for adapting peasants to the market economy. The peasant community resisted the commodity-money relations, but this resistance was not always effective. There was a growing individualistic trend which threatened to destroy the community organization. Vorontsov focused on the distribution-production functions of the peasant community rather than on its financial-tax, law-making, judicial functions and methods of social protection, and did not consider its representative, police, cultural-educational, religious functions or the contradictions between the communal nature of land relations and the individual economic practices of the peasantry. Vorontsov’s book is a real encyclopedia of the activities and worldview of the Russian peasantry in the second half of the 19th century.
The article is based on the presentation made on March 11, 2021 at the scientific seminar of the Chayanov Research Center and the Center for Agrarian Studies of the RANEPA. The presentation summarized publications based on the research supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 19-17-00174 “Development of the old-developed regions under the social-economic polarization and the reduction of the developed space of European Russia”). The research aimed at identifying challenges and consequences of the Russian spatial polarization for rural areas at different levels – from regional to local – on the example of Central Russia (including the Moscow Region and its neighboring regions). The author considers features of rural areas in Central Russia, describes trends of their development and consequences of the longterm rural depopulation which was especially strong around the Moscow Region. The author focuses on different types of migration (interregional, intraregional and international) and their reasons; identifies centers of the contemporary population concentration; describes the transformation of agriculture in these regions, its organizational and spatial changes, the main trends in the decline and revival of agricultural production and its impact on rural settlement; proves that the polarization of rural areas affects all levels – regions, municipal districts and settlements. The article is based on the integrated approach that considers rural areas in their interaction with cities: the influence of urban investments on the development of rural areas, the increasing concentration of the rural population in the suburbs, the role of summer residents in the redevelopment of rural areas and in the preservation of rural settlements. Finally, the author assesses the consequences of the authorities’ decisions for rural areas.
This interview with Gennady Stepanovich Lisichkin was taken on February 1, 1999 for the book Press in Society (1959-2000). Estimates of Journalists and Sociologists. Documents. We believe that the biography of this famous scholar and publicist, which is closely related to the development of agriculture in the USSR in the 1950-1970s, will be interesting to the readers of the Russian Peasant Studies. In 1953, after graduating from the MGIMO University and working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gennady Stepanovich voluntarily went to Kazakhstan and was the head of the collective farm for three years. Later he worked at the USSR Embassy in Yugoslavia, as an editor of the department in the Izvestia and as an economic observer in the Pravda. He was an involuntary initiator of the public discussion on the economic challenges of agricultural production in the central press in the 1960s (a selection of documents from the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History was published in the section “Beyond the Economic Discussion in the Press”).
The increase in number of agroholdings in the Russian regions changes the paths of rural development and attracts the scientific interest to interaction of business groups with the authorities and local communities. Concentration of agricultural production in the hands of large companies has regional peculiarities determined by the level of integration: there are regions with a high share of holdings in the structure of agricultural production (for example, the Belgorod and Voronezh Regions) and, on the contrary, regions with a high share of agricultural production in households (Dagestan, Crimea, Tuva). The article considers the Republic of Crimea as a participant of the emerging holding structure of the agricultural production, but the increase in the share of agricultural enterprises is accompanied by the dominance of the informal household economy. The author also considers the influence of agroholdings on the development of rural territories and agricultural production on the example of the largest Crimean producer of agricultural products.
The article considers the features of the contemporary rural development of the Russian ethnic region on the example of the Republic of Tyva. In 2017, according to the official statistics, it was the poorest Russian region by the share of the rural population below the poverty line. This situation was determined by a number of factors exacerbating Tuva’s economic depression: its being a periphery and its remoteness from economic centers, stagnation and impossibility to revitalize the industrial complex, destruction of the agricultural sector, a high share of the shadow economy, and so on. The reason for the economic stagnation is the agrarian path of Tyva chosen by the regional elites, which consists of the support for small archaic agricultural production as an ethnic type of activity. The article describes the vectors of the contemporary rural development of the Republic of Tyva, its economic and ethnic-social features, and changes determined by the large transfers from the federal budget to the regional economy. Today, there is spatial polarization and rural depopulation in the depressed agrarian regions, and the cities remain the main centers of population concentration (mainly the city of Kyzyl).