Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Agrarian reform and subsistence agriculture in Russia

Yefimov, Vladimir (2003): Agrarian reform and subsistence agriculture in Russia. Published in: Studies on the Agricultural and Food Sector in Central and Eastern Europe , Vol. 22, No. Subsistence Agriculture in Central and Eastern Europe:How to Break the Vicious Circle? (January 2003): pp. 161-178.

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Russian agrarian reform failure is a direct result of ignoring the nature of agrarian institutions inherited from Soviet times and the application of a liberal neo-classical approach in the law making process. The most important problem which presents impediments to agrarian reform is the role of collective farms as the mechanisms of survival for rural communities. Rural dwellers understand very well that if former collective/state farms were substituted by real private enterprises, then they would lose access to resources from collective/state farms for their subsistence household farms, the only source of their survival. They also understand that only a minority of them could create agricultural businesses and the majority would not be employed in the new private agricultural enterprises. That is why they resist any transformation of their collective/state farms. They resist not as individuals, but as a community. So members of the community who wish to create private enterprises are under pressure from the community worried about subsistence household farms. Agrarian reform legislation provided rural dwellers with a very powerful tool for this resistance: privatisation of collective and state farms by members of these farms on an egalitarian basis. The authors of land reform legislation did not worry about that because they were neo-classical economists. They estimated that the most important thing is the right of owners of land and asset shares to buy and sell them. According to them, the inclusion of this right into legislation is sufficient to start a process of creation of viable agricultural enterprises on the land of former collective and state farms, with the subsequent concentration of land and other assets in the hands of the most efficient farmers. The reformers did not pay any attention to the institution of subsistence household farms.

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