|A Troubled Realm|
|Russian Agricultures Spatial Constraints, Variance, and Prospects for Revival|
What it is all about -- a brief introduction to the problem
Explanations of Russian farming’s failures have typically invoked features derivative of the socio-economic order such as incentives, ownership, and communal forms. However, since low efficiency and poor production outcomes have survived at least three changes in the dominant socio-economic order, certain background causes of agriculture’s poor performance apparently have not been addressed, or if they were, “proper” conclusions were not drawn.
Russian farmers have to contend with some of the worst climates faced by farmers anywhere. So, is nature just an excuse for poor performance or there’s more to this?
Russia seems to have over-abundant land under cultivation – with respect to its aging pool of agricultural labor in the first place. So, wouldn’t self-conscious reduction of agricultural land lead to the larger agricultural output simply due to better control over the remaining land, including heightened land use intensity per every hectare of it?
Russia is a vast country with huge inter-urban distances, and the so-called peri-urban farms, that is, farms located in proximity to major urban cores yield much more than outlying farms – something that typified agricultural land use in Europe and North America decades ago. So, isn’t some outlying agricultural land actually redundant?
Ironically, some of these questions have never been asked, and some are deemed politically incorrect in the Russian context. In our project we want to pose such questions, not to beg them. Specifically we are interested in uncovering objective constraints on agricultural developments. As befits geographers, the constraints that we have in mind possess vivid spatial dimensions. Based on our understanding of these constraints, we will be able to better evaluate prospects for Russia’s agricultural development. This is what our project is all about.