In Soviet times, it was kind of trendy among the young people to go to the “exploration of the new lands” – like the great campaign on gaining food independence of the Soviet Union – as they were importing grains and more. So they decided to use the huge land masses that they already had but where nobody was farming them. Because private farming was forbidden at the time, they did it through governmental structures. Let’s read on:
They formed tens or hundreds of special Soviet farms called “Sovkhoz” – like “Soviet Farm” and then started moving people into them, often promising benefits, especially to the young ones.
However, even Krushev himself in his memoirs remembers that often the natural and geological particularities of the places were not taken into account, so often harmful things happened like “When we already had plowed and sowed big fields in Kazakhstan, the sand storms that nobody expected happened but that was a regular thing there.” However Krushev adds to this that even with all these difficulties and mistakes, the prices of the grain and bread farmed this way was the lowest they could achieve in the whole Soviet country.
Still, many Soviet leaders have criticized this endeavor, like for example Molotov – the one who signed a peace treaty with Hitler: “We started doing this too fast. It was too huge and because of that adventurous. I was offering to spend these colossal funds on the places where people were already living and farming to help them scale the resources and grain production and just a part of it to put into exploration of the new lands. However, they spent billions on this project and then they faced logistic problems – tons of grain were spoiled, there were no roads, you couldn’t even take it away from there! It was all Krushev – he was like a mad horse – he got an idea and started moving fast. The idea means nothing – there had to be the calculations, economical reasons, etc. Talk to people, etc. But no – he was like Come on! Come on, lets’ do it! Started planting grains on over 50 million hectares of land! And it was all useless!”
However, a lot of movies devoted to these people and this project were filmed, artists made paintings, etc.
Also, there is a conspiracy theory that all this movement of people and machinery on to the East to the unused lands was made to cover the construction of the Baikonur rocket launch center which was built there around then, too.
After all of this ended in 1965, many of the people working there had been there for ten years and understood that they were strongly connected with this new place, which for them quickly became their home. So over six million Russian slavic people were left in what is now Kazakhstan and called it home. However after the USSR collapsed a lot started migrating back to Russia – like in 2000 alone around 1 million Russians moved from Kazakhstan back to Russia.