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To what extent did the 'collective' farms of Eastern Europe work?

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Introduction

To what extent did the 'collective' farms of Eastern Europe work? The ideology of collectivisation 1st became a viable policy in Stalinist Russia. The primary thinking behind this revolutionary initiative was to improve agricultural production to a level that could sustain the ever-increasing urban masses. Furthermore the decision makers in Eastern Europe wished to ensure an abundant supply of cheap food was available so that they could control, and keep real wage rates at a manageable level. The collectivisation of agriculture was envisaged by the socialist regimes as the "Ideal vehicle to achieve this objective." (1) The large-scale cultivation necessitated by collectivisation was seen by the socialist regime as a fundament strategy to improve the total productivity of the agricultural sector. Within a short space of time its origins and principles had began to spread rapidly throughout the Eastern European states, until the widespread adoption of the policy became an essential tool for the majority of socialist regimes. As one looks at collectivisation throughout Eastern Europe, it becomes apparent early on that no 2 nation states had identical results from the adoption of this policy. Each State has to be judged on its own merits and individual socio-economic results. Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia were 3 infant states that had collectivisation enforced upon them by the expansionist German regime. In the immediate aftermath of the war they simultaneously decided that they would progress with the 'cooperative farm' ethos that the Nazi government had installed in their societies. It had shown a level of effectiveness and efficiency that when manipulated can have huge governmental benefits. ...read more.

Middle

(3) Whatever agricultural system was adopted, the stark fact remained that all Eastern European states continued to struggle to provide cheap food for the urban masses. With the pressure on foodstuffs mounting some alarming signals came to light. In Bulgaria in 1962 for example, the government of the day had to import copious amounts of wheat from Canada to quell disturbances originating from food shortages in the industrialising cities. The reasons for the productive inefficiencies cannot be labelled solely at the door of collectivisation. Other factors need to be taken into account. Admittedly, Bulgarian weather played a role in deteriorating crop growth. Also the lack of competent infrastructure in many of the socialist territories led to vast inefficiencies. M. Kaser and E.A. Radice are of the opinion that poor infrastructure "Resulted in the loss of as much as a 1/4 of gross harvest output." (4) This is an astronomical amount of harvest to squander, but ultimately it underlines the inefficiencies that marred much of the socialist regime. The relationship between investment levels and output within the socialist economies should have a positive correlation. Bearing this in mind, one can assume that the outcome of increased tractor provision and use of chemical fertilizers would lead to higher yield from the same amount of land. It seems that throughout this period it was chemical fertilizers that most cooperative farms relied upon the increase productivity rates. Between 1948 and 1971 the use of chemical fertilizer increased 7 fold in Czechoslovakia, and as much as 24 times its original rate in Hungary. ...read more.

Conclusion

The socialist governments of the day prioritised and supported the need for industrialisation over agricultural performance. This ultimately initiated the steady transformation from a predominantly agrarian society to the industrialised nations that we have today. Successful collective farms were no longer a governments 1st economic priority, thus its relative success rate would undoubtedly start to diminish. This leads me to believe that during specific periods in certain countries collectivisation was a successful policy to operate. But there are also individual circumstances where collectivisation had a relative inadequate outcome. In particularly, the incentives for agricultural production were basic at best; this ultimately had an adverse effect on a nations economic prosperity. It is on these grounds that I have made the assumption that, although the collective farms of Eastern Europe played an important role in revolutionising agricultural production. The extent to which they were a success will remain inconclusive for many years to come. Referencing: (1) D. H. Aldroft and S. Morewood, Economic change in Eastern Europe since 1918 (Aldershot, 1995), p. 118. (2) D. H. Aldroft and S. Morewood, Economic change in Eastern Europe since 1918 (Aldershot, 1995), p. 122. (3) D. H. Aldroft and S. Morewood, Economic change in Eastern Europe since 1918 (Aldershot, 1995), p. 119. (4) M. Kaser and E.A. Radice, (eds.) The Economic History of Eastern Europe 1919-1975, Volume II: Interwar Policy, the War and Reconstruction (Oxford, 1985), p. 67. (5) L. P. Morris, Eastern Europe since 1945, p. 109. (6) L. P. Morris, Eastern Europe since 1945, p. 109. (7) L. P. Morris, Eastern Europe since 1945, p. 107. (8) L. P. Morris, Eastern Europe since 1945, p. 109. ...read more.

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