2 To the 60th anniversary of turning Wild Lands into Fertile Lands

To the 60th anniversary of turning Wild Lands into Fertile Lands

Finest hour of “virgin soil”

Reforms and people in the USSR


August 16, 1956, in the USSR there was adopted a resolution “About irrigation and the development of virgin soil lands”. More than a half million people went to the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Volga region, Siberia and the Urals.

“In such way, foremost people of reaping are honored on virgin farm” Leninskiy ” ” / Photo: Iosiph Budnevich

The development of virgin land on color photographs from the archives of the “Ogonyok” magazine – in the photo gallery of the famous newspaper.

The development of virgin land began in 1954 when in the Soviet Union there was a grain deficit. 50 thousand. Of Komsomol members from the central part of the country went to the Aktyubinsk region (Kazakh ASSR), plant grain culture.

“Through virgin soil” / Photo: A. Gostev


During the time of the development of virgin lands program more than 45 million hectares of land: 25.5 million ha – in Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Urals – 17 million hectares was plowed and planted with new crops.

“Best pig-woman Maria Rogacheva with her pet” / Photo: Yakov Ryumkin


Workforce for new lands was attracted from the western part of the USSR. Mobilized young Komsomol members got free transport, allowance for a thousand rubles. In addition, they had a soft loan amounting to 20 thousand for 10 years for housing building. During five years from the state budget, 20 billion rubles were allocated for this purpose.

“Friends of a tractor driver Kiparenko Maria (on the left) and Sofia Borsch came to develop virgin lands in the Northern Kazakhstan” / Photo: N. Drachinsky

“Night cleaning at the farm ” Sunrise ” in North Kazakhstan region” / Photo: Iosiph Budnevich

“Young virgin landers – tractor driver and cooker of brigade came to the virgin lands” / Photo: B. Kuzmin


In total in 1954-1959 years in the campaign for the development of new agricultural land were involved 1.7 million people.

“Student of MHTS in the name of Bauman works on virgin combiner” / Photo: Simon Friedland


“In 1956, there was a great year. Harvest in the desert was grown very rich, instead of the promised 600 million there was 1 billion tons of grain “, – wrote in his book” Virgin land”Leonid Brezhnev.

“Bread of virgin lands” / Photo: Dmitry Baltermants


In 1956 in the USSR there was collected a record harvest of 125 million tons of grains, half of which was obtained in the virgin lands.

” New settlers of tractor team: from left to right, Mikhail Antipov, tractor driver Ivan Zanin and Nikolay Solovyov” / Photo: Alexander Gostev


“People have to reckon with the natural processes and adapt to them, contrasting their fabrication to wild nature. But whatever happened, and despite all the difficulties, the virgin bread remained the cheapest one “, – Nikita Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs.

“Cinema without an address. Bus-theater “Malutka” “/ Photo: K. Kasimov


In virgin areas, there was organized a usual for youth leisure: clubs, cinemas, and libraries.


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2 Responses to “To the 60th anniversary of turning Wild Lands into Fertile Lands”

  1. Martin Barlow says:

    These are great pictures in the way they illustrate the propaganda that was produced at the time, and the hope that went with Khrushchev’s idea, which seemed a good one for the first couple of years. However, while it’s mentioned in passing, perhaps a bit more about how the soil and climate in fact proved quite unsuitable for this type of cultivation would have been appropriate, and how the soil ended up sterile and unproductive, with widespread erosion. In the long term it proved a bit of a disaster as far as I understand it, though I stand to be corrected.

  2. RB says:

    All of these pictures of Russia are very interesting. The health of hard working people and the happiness of the children. We lost a lot of what was good for us. Now too much sugar is killing everyone in the world.

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