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Who Paid for Industrialization? :The Development of Market Relations and the Transformation of Peasant Economy in Chernozem’e of Russia during the Capitalist Industrialization



Who Paid for Industrialization? :The Development of Market Relations and the Transformation of Peasant Economy in Chernozem’e of Russia during the Capitalist Industrialization



The Western History Review 104: 239-273



In the late XIX - early XX centuries peasant farms in the Central Chernozem’e(Central Black-Earth) of Russia from year to year were linked to markets. In the XIX century main products in this area were primarily grain and livestock, in addition, alcohol and handicrafts. These goods transported mainly by rivers, and after being laid railways quantity of goods that were loaded on the Rail year after year increased.An exceptional role in the village life of the Black-Earth was played by grain production. Despite worsening economic conditions of peasants, grain exports from the Central Chernozem’e increased. On the eve of the abolition of serfdom, the prices of the four major export crops - wheat, rye, oats and barley - varied considerably in some years, but nevertheless there was a tendency to increase. But after 1861 these prices were steadily increasing. The growth rate of exports continued until the beginning of XX century, but ‘the Great Hunger’ in 1891. The Reforms gave not only to peasants but also to grain traders the freedom.In addition, the grain was the raw material for brewery business. In Voronezh and Tambov provinces, as in other provinces of Central Black-Earth region, brewery business was one of the most important industries. Until the end of XIX century in the black soil areas the amount brewed alcohol did not decrease.Along with various crops, in Voronezh and Tambov provinces was extended the cultivation of industrial crops -potatoes, sugar beet, tobacco, hemp, etc. Consequently, in these provinces distilleries and sugar- manufacturing factories are the principal industrial establishments, which employed a large number of workers.Peasant grain productions gradually engaged the village of Central Black-Earth region into the new trade relations and strengthen the capitalization of agriculture. Not only landowners, but also peasants in the rural community also sought the production for the transaction at markets of more commercial products through the diversity of crops.However, the appearance of grain production in the markets was not indicative of its surplus. For various reasons (taxes, debts, rents, etc.), peasants in the harvest seasons sold grain at a low price, and in the winter and spring when the grain was very expensive, they had to buy cereals already at an increased. This cycle was repeated especially among the poor and middle-class peasants, who had no other sources of income, except for agriculture.

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