Collectivisation of Agriculture in Russia

Collectivisation of Agriculture in Russia

Collectivisation was Stalin's answer to his belief that Russia’s agriculture was in a terrible state. Stalin believed that Russia had to be able to feed itself - hence collectivisation - and that at the very least the peasant farmers should be providing food for the workers in the factories if the Five Year Plans were going to succeed.

In 1928 Stalin had said:

"Agriculture is developing slowly, comrades. This is because we have about 25 million individually owned farms. They are the most primitive and undeveloped form of economy We must do our utmost to develop large farms and to convert them into grain factories for the country organised on a modem scientific basis."

Stalin’s description of the state of Russia’s farming was very accurate. There was barely any mechanisation, the use of scientific measures was minimal and peasant farmers produced usually for themselves and the local area. This was not good enough for Stalin.

To change all this and update Russia’s agriculture, Stalin introduced collectivisation. This meant that small farms would be gathered together to form one large massive one. These bigger farms would be called collectives. As they were large, there was every reason to use machinery on them. The more food that could be grown the better as the cities and factories could suitably be fed. Hungry factory workers would not be in a fit enough state to work effectively. If this happened the Five Year Plans would not succeed.

If this happened then Russia would not advance.

The key to collectives would be the use of science and machinery. Tractors stations were created to hire out tractors, combine harvesters etc. Collectives were up and running by 1930 when over 50% of all farms had been grouped together.

How did the peasants react to this policy?

Lenin had given the peasants their land in 1918. By 1924, even the poorest peasant owned land. There were those who had worked hard and done well. These were richer peasants and were called kulaks. This group in particular was very much against collectivisation. They felt that their hard work was being taken advantage of. Stalin tried to turn to poorer peasants against the kulaks. In 1928, he said at a speech:

"Look at the kulaks farms : their barns and sheds are crammed with grain. And yet they are holding onto this grain because they are demanding three times the price offered by the government."

However, many peasants, ‘rich’ or poor, were against collectivisation. The land that Lenin had given them was now being taken away by Stalin. Villages that refused to join a collective had soldiers sent to them and the villagers were usually shoot as "enemies of the revolution" or "enemies of the people". The land, now freed from ownership, was handed to the nearest collective farm.

Those villages that were due for collectivisation but did not want to join a collective, killed their animals and destroyed their grain so that they could not be taken by the soldiers and secret police. Thus began an era of almost unparalleled slaughter of farm animals and the systematic destruction of grain.

Grain 1928 = 73.3 million tons 1934 = 67.6 million tons
Cattle 1929 = 70.5 million 1934 = 42.4 million
Pigs 1928 = 26 million 1934 = 22.6 million
Sheep and goats 1928 = 146.7 million 1934 = 51.9 million

MLA Citation/Reference

"Collectivisation of Agriculture in Russia". 2014. Web.

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