The Virgin Lands Program

Nikita Khrushchev, On Further Increasing the Country’s Grain Production and Putting Virgin and Idle Lands into Cultivation. February 23, 1954


Comrades! The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is devoting all its efforts to peaceful construction and further improvement in the material well-being of the Soviet people.

From the first days of the Soviet regime, when the Communist Party became the ruling party, problems of economic development have been central in its domestic policy. The Party will always remember the statement by our Inspired leader and teacher Vladimir Il’ich Lenin on the tremendous international importance of economic development in the USSR

As far back as in 1921, when our people had ended the struggle against the interventionists and made the transition to peaceful construction, Lenin stated that we would now exert our main influence on the course of international events through our economic policies. “The struggle has been shifted to this sphere on a world-scale,” Vladimir Il’ich stated. “If we solve this task we will have won definitely and conclusively on an International scale. This is why problems Of economic development are of quite extraordinary importance for us.”

Many years have passed since these words were spoken. The land of the Soviets has been turned into a powerful industrial and collective farming socialist state. Every step In Our progress has a profound effect on the Course of international events … The constant growth in the material welfare and cultural standards of the working people of the land of the Soviets helps honest men In all countries to appreciate still more the advantages of the socialist over the capitalist system.

Comrades! The Party Central Committee’s plenary session of great urgency In the present situation-the task of meeting, the growing need of our country’s population for food products and providing the light and food industries with abundant raw materials within the next two to three years, on the basis of socialist industry’s mighty growth …

Comrades! The September plenary session of the Party Central Committee pointed out that grain farming is basic to all farm production. The level of grain production is a deciding factor in the development of all other branches of agriculture.

It was pointed out at the plenary session that on the whole our country is self-sufficient in grain.

However grain requirements are constantly growing …

It cannot be overlooked that until recently some of our personnel did not wage a sufficient struggle to increase grain production. Although grain growing shows improvement, yields in many areas are still low and the gross grain crop is inadequate. There is a disparity between the existing level of grain farming and the country’s increasing need for grain.

The problem is to increase considerably the gross grain yield in 1954 and 1955 and to increase state procurements and purchases of grain at least 35% to 40% as compared with 1953 …

There are large amounts of undeveloped land in eastern areas. For example, there are up to 40,000,000 hectares of overgrown, idle and virgin lands, un-irrigated hayfields and pastures in 14 provinces of the Russian Republic and eight of the Kazakh Republic.

The state farms of the USSR Ministry of State Farms have great reserves of land suitable for development. Slightly more than 15,000,000 hectares of a total of 59,000,000 hectares of land, or 26% of all land on state farms of this ministry (not including northern districts and Central Asia), are planted or in summer fallow, while the area covered by pastures and hayfields, a considerable part of which could be planted to grain and other crops, totals more than 33,000,000 hectares, or more than 3 5% of all the land.

These’ figures indicate the tremendous reserves at the disposal of many districts of the country for expanding the acreage under grain crops and increasing grain production.

The most modest estimates show that in the northeastern provinces and certain other areas of the Kazakh Republic, in Western Siberia and the Urals, as well as the Volga area and to some extent the North Caucasus, grain planting can be expanded by 13,000,000 hectares in the next two years, 8,700,000 hectares on the collective farms and 4,300,000 on the state farms. The area under grain can be expanded by more than 2,300,000 hectares in 1954 alone …

Production of grain on the new lands should be completely mechanized, making it possible to carry out field work during the best time periods and to do it well.

The new lands will be developed for planting to grain both by existing MTS and state farms and through the organization of new state grain farms. Work has already begun to select lands suitable for organizing new state grain farms, as well as lands to be plowed up by existing state farms and MTS. Special attention should be devoted in the course of this work to the selection first of all of the more fertile and accessible lands near populated points.

Plans have been made to form special MTS. tractor detachments composed of two to four tractor brigades to develop idle and virgin lands on collective farms and sectors remote from populated points. Experienced engineers or agronomists should head the tractor detachments.

More than 120,000 tractors (in 15-h.p. units), 10,000 combines and the necessary number of plows, cultivators, disk harrows, seeders and other machinery and equipment are being allocated to the MTS. and state farms in the districts where new lands are to be developed in 1954- Much equipment is being provided. The problem will be to make correct use of it.

Equipment, as is known, is dead without people, without cadres. Consequently, cadres are a deciding factor in successful development of the new lands. Preliminary estimates show that a work force of about 70,000 persons, 30,000 of them tractor and combine operators, will be needed for the state farms alone.

The complexity of the manpower problem lies in the fact that new lands will be developed in relatively underpopulated areas. Only a part of the cadres can be selected locally. The bulk of them will have to be recruited from other parts of the country.

It is very important to select for the state farms and MTS. developing the new lands qualified directors, chief engineers and chief agronomists who have had much practical experience on state farms and MTS. and have proved their ability to manage large operations, overcome difficulties and carry out responsible assignments of the Party and government …

We should not be seriously disturbed by the fact that in openly criticizing shortcomings we will for a time be supplying grist for the mill of the Soviet land’s enemies, malicious persons of every type who, when we disclose our shortcomings, cry out about the weakness of the Soviet Union. But, as the saying goes: “The dog barks, but the horse gallops.” We must pay no attention to our enemies’ malicious gossip.

Criticism and self criticism of our shortcomings is our tried and true weapon. Criticism of our shortcomings only strengthens us …

Our socialist homeland is making a powerful, new advance. The Soviet Union’s successes in peaceful construction are inspiring cheer and confidence in the hearts of our friends, and fierce anger and hatred in our enemies. The imperialists are starting to figure out what year the Soviet Union’s economic level of development and per capita production in our country will surpass the highest indices of the most advanced capitalist countries. They no longer doubt that it will happen. And the prospect frightens them.

The Communist Party is confidently leading the peoples of our country along the path of building communism.

Source: Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. VI, No. 12 (May 4, 1954); No. 3-4, pp. 12-13.


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