In 1954, the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution "On the further increase in grain production in the country and on the development of virgin and fallow lands." The USSR State Planning Committee planned to plow in Kazakhstan, Siberia, the Volga region, the Urals and other regions of the country at least 43 million hectares of virgin and fallow lands. As the second secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan recalled, J. Shayakhmetov: “There was a discussion: to develop agriculture in an intensive or extensive way. Arguments for the intensification were much more convincing, but the leadership of the Soviet country, represented by N. S. Khrushchev, preferred the extensive path of agricultural development. ”
The idea to quickly plow the virgin lands of Khrushchev and his supporters advanced even at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU in June 1953, but then they received a rebuff from both the party leadership and many agricultural scientists, primarily TD Lysenko. However, in 1954, Khrushchev was able to take up.
Accelerated development of virgin lands gave rise to several misfortunes. On the one hand, the development of virgin lands began without any preliminary preparation, with no infrastructure at all — roads, granaries, qualified personnel, not to mention housing and repair facilities for equipment. The natural conditions of the steppes were not taken into account: sand storms and dry winds were not taken into account, sparing soil cultivation methods and grain varieties adapted to this type of climate were not developed. Therefore, the development of virgin lands turned into another campaign, supposedly capable of overnight solving all problems with food. Avrahls and storming, confusion flourished.
They have invested a lot of money, money and effort into this hasty and ill-conceived project. So, for 1954 — 1961. virgin lands absorbed 20% of all USSR investments in agriculture. Because of this, the agrarian development of traditional Russian agricultural areas remained unchanged or even began to deteriorate. This money could be used more profitably. Thousands of specialists, volunteers and equipment threw themselves on the “virgin front”. According to the Komsomol assignments, young people were driven into the Kazakh steppes, they sent technical specialists, sent whole issues to teachers, doctors and agronomists. They also sent young collective farmers from "unpromising" places. In fact, it was a massive deportation of Russians from their indigenous lands, which at that time were deserted.
On the other hand, after a few years, vast areas of developed lands began to turn into desert and salt marshes. There was an environmental problem. Again, we had to invest a lot of money and effort, now to carry out rescue activities like plantations.
As V. Molotov later wrote: “Virginia began to master prematurely. Of course, it was absurd. In this size - an adventure. From the very beginning, I was a supporter of the development of virgin lands on a limited scale, and not in such enormous ones, which forced us to invest huge amounts of money, to incur enormous expenses instead of raising what was ready in the inhabited areas. But otherwise it is impossible. Here you have a million rubles, no more, so give them to the virgin lands or already to the inhabited areas, where there are opportunities? I offered to invest this money in our Non-Black Earth, and to lift virgin soil gradually. They scattered the means - and with this a little bit, and with that, but there is no place to keep the bread, it rots, there are no roads, it is impossible to take it out. And Khrushchev found the idea and rushes like a savras without a bridle! This idea solves nothing definitely, it can help, but to a limited extent. Be able to calculate, count, ask what people will say. No - come on, come on! He began to swing, almost forty or forty five million hectares of virgin otgryz, but it is impossible, ridiculous and not necessary, and if it were fifteen or seventeen, probably would have come more good. More sense. "
Tselina raised in just four years. This was announced in 1959 by Khrushchev, the main initiator and inspirer of the virgin-fallow campaign. Khrushchev himself at the XXI Congress of the CPSU in 1959, said that "thanks to the successful development of virgin lands, it became possible not only to significantly improve the food supply to cities and industrial centers, but also to set the task of surpassing the United States in terms of agricultural development." Total for 1954 — 1960 41,8 million hectares of virgin lands and deposits were raised. On virgin soil only in the first two years 425 grain state farms were created, agricultural giants were created and later.
The first result of the development of virgin lands was a sharp increase in agricultural production: in 1954, the USSR collected 85,5 million tons of grain (including on virgin 27,1 million tons), and in 1960, already 125 million tons (including on virgin lands - 58,7 million Thanks to the extraordinary concentration of funds, people and equipment, as well as natural factors, new lands in the first years produced extremely high yields, and from the middle of the 1950-ies from half to one-third of all bread produced in the USSR. However, the desired stability, despite efforts, failed to achieve: in crop failure Even the sowing fund could not be gathered on virgin lands, as a result of ecological imbalance and wind and chemical soil erosion, dust storms became a real disaster. Only in 1956-1958 years of virgin lands 10 of millions of hectares of arable land were “blown out” Hungary or Portugal. The development of virgin lands has entered a crisis stage, the efficiency of its cultivation has fallen by 65%.
In addition, by 1959, the area under crops and industrial crops in the Russian Non-Black Earth Region, in the Central Black Soil Region of the RSFSR, and in the Middle Volga Region, was generally halved compared to the 1953 year, including sowing of traditional flax there three times
It should be noted that the problems of developing agriculture and ensuring the country's food security have always occupied an important place in the policies of the Soviet leadership and have become one of the main economic policies in the postwar years. This was due to the dire consequences of the war. The damage that Hitler's hordes caused to the agriculture of the Soviet Union was estimated at tens of billions of rubles. In former USSR, the territory of the USSR occupied by the Hitlerites produced (nationwide): 55-60% grain, including up to 75% corn, almost 90% sugar beet, 65% sunflower, 45% potato, 40% - meat products, 35% - dairy products. The Nazis destroyed or took out almost 200 thousands of tractors and combines, which was about a third of the country's agricultural machinery fleet in 1940 year. The country has lost more than 25 million livestock, as well as 40% of enterprises for the processing of agricultural products.
The situation was aggravated by the drought of 1946-1947. In addition, Moscow refused enslaving foreign loans and imports of agricultural products for foreign currency in order not to become dependent on the West. However, by refusing this channel of possible support for the economy, Moscow complicated the recovery of agriculture. It is also worth considering that, despite internal problems, in 1945-1953. The USSR provided free food assistance to East Germany, Austria, as well as to China, Mongolia, North Korea and Vietnam.
In 1946, the Soviet leadership instructed agricultural and research organizations to develop proposals for ensuring a long-term reliable supply of agricultural products, increasing crop yields and livestock productivity, as well as material incentives for productivity growth in the agriculture of the USSR. An interdepartmental commission was established under the leadership of academicians T. D. Lysenko and V. S. Nemchinov: she was given the task of developing long-term state agricultural policy. The commission existed until 1954. According to the decisions of the March plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, her work was declared unsatisfactory. Apparently, because of the negative attitude towards the initiative of Khrushchev and the Khrushchevites for the speedy development of fallow and virgin lands.
An attempt to start a virgin campaign was made under Stalin. Some scientists — the future advisers of Khrushchev — in the 1949-1952 years. literally “bombarded” with letters not only Lysenko and Nemchinov, but also many members of the Politburo, lobbying for the extensive development of the country's agriculture. They proposed the rapid development of new lands by the former agrotechnical methods and with the help of the massive use of chemical fertilizers and, accordingly, the redistribution of the acreage. That is what was later implemented under Khrushchev. However, an interdepartmental commission under the leadership of academicians Lysenko and Nemchinov did a great job and presented seven reports and recommendations to the CPSU Central Committee and the Council of Ministers, as well as personally to JV Stalin, which rejected the extensive development path of the agricultural sector.
Scientists predicted: "Plowing for wheat about 40 of millions of hectares of virgin-fallow lands, radically different in their properties and the required processing methods from agricultural land of other regions of the USSR, will lead to chronic degradation of these lands, to negative changes in the ecological situation in the vast region of the country and, accordingly, to permanent increase the cost of maintaining the fertility of virgin soils. "
They also noted that in the short term, 2-3 of the year, there will be a sharp increase in yield. However, then, with the help of chemical means and an increase in the volumes of artificial irrigation, it will be possible to achieve only maintaining the level of productivity, but in no way further increasing it. Due to the peculiarities of the soil and climate in virgin areas, the yield there will be two to three times lower than that in traditional agricultural areas of Russia (Ukraine, Moldova, the North Caucasus, the Central Black Soil Region, some regions of the Volga region). The artificial increase in yield due to chemicalization and irrigation will lead to irreparable pollution, salinization and acid waterlogging of the soil, and, therefore, to the rapid spread of erosion, including natural reservoirs in the region with virgin lands. This trend will cause, in particular, the elimination of animal husbandry as the agricultural industry in the region from the Volga to the Altai inclusive. In the first 5-6 years, the reserves of the fertile soil layer - humus - on virgin lands will decrease by 10-15%, and further this figure will be 25-35% in comparison with the “pre-soil” period.
Soviet scientists wrote that for artificial irrigation of new agricultural land, it may take many kilometers to divert from the Volga, the Urals, the Irtysh, the Ob and, possibly, the Aral and the Caspian (with mandatory desalting of the water of these arteries). Obviously, this can lead to negative, and chronic changes in the water balance of many regions of the country and dramatically worsen the provision of water resources for agriculture, especially animal husbandry, in most parts of the USSR. A decrease in the level of the Volga, the Urals and other water arteries and reservoirs will adversely affect all sectors of the regional economy adjacent to virgin lands, especially in forestry, fisheries, shipping and electric power, and the ecological situation will worsen there.
If we continue the policy of increasing the grain yield on virgin lands in conditions of degradation of virgin soils and growing water deficit, then, along with the constant increase in the volumes of soil chemization, we will have to first completely reorient the lower and, partly, the average flow of the Irtysh, Volga, Ural rivers , Amu Darya, Syr Darya and Ob to northern Kazakhstan and adjacent areas. As a result, over time, the course and course of these rivers will have to be completely changed. These and related activities will lead to a constant increase in the cost of agricultural production, which will strike a blow to the entire economy and finances of the USSR.
It should be said that the commission did not reject, in principle, the idea of developing the virgin and fallow lands of the USSR. But this required fundamentally new agrobiological and technical methods, including the development of breeding work, taking into account the specifics of the natural and climatic conditions of specific regions, and the peculiarities of the impact of chemical fertilizers on certain types of agricultural plants in specific regions of the USSR. No wonder Molotov noted the need to develop virgin soil on a limited scale.
The findings of the commission in the Khrushchev period remained in the USSR under the signature “Secret” or “For official use” and were not available to the general public. Only during the confrontation of the USSR with China and Albania (entirely Khrushchev’s fault) did they get to Beijing and Tirana, where they were given a turn.
Thus, even in the Stalinist period, Soviet scientists fully predicted the negative factors of Khrushchev’s virgin epic.
As predicted by the commission, in the first few years on virgin soil and, therefore, in the country, the collection of bread has increased significantly. But it was not the yield that increased, but the area of crops: the share of virgin lands in the sown areas of wheat in the USSR to 1958 was 65% by year, and the share of these lands in the gross wheat harvest in the country almost reached 70% percent. At the same time, for six years after 1953, agricultural consumption of chemical fertilizers, according to official data, more than doubled: virgin lands demanded a growing amount of "chemistry", subsequently infecting both soil and grain, and reservoirs that damage livestock.
In addition, under Khrushchev, the grassland farming system was first criticized and then even banned. Moreover, the authorities have prescribed no further care for the forest shelter belts created under Stalin in the 1948-1953 years. and prevented in many regions, desertification, soil salinization, reduction of their natural fertility (for example, in the Ukraine).
At the same time, investment in agriculture increased. It was from the time of Khrushchev's rule that the agriculture of the USSR began to turn into a “black” hole, which sucked in more and more funds. And the greater their volume was, the faster their effectiveness decreased.
Thus, the virgin epic was another strong blow to the Russian countryside and agriculture. Food abundance did not take place; the agrarian sector began to turn into a “black hole”; Russia-USSR began to sit down to import food; there was a sharp outflow of the able-bodied, skilled and young population from the Russian village and the forced redistribution of material and technical resources in favor of the new agricultural regions, which became one of the leading factors, along with the course to eliminate "unpromising" villages, which led to the degradation of agriculture in the central and the northern part of Russia (in the indigenous Russian lands).
In addition, after the collapse of the USSR, millions of Russians became hostages of Khrushchev’s policy, losing their large homeland. Many were forced to leave the cities and developed lands founded by their ancestors, fearing the nationalist policies of local authorities.