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Russia’s Agriculture in 1990s


meadow [‘med?u] луг, луговина; низина, пойменная земля

chernozem [‘???n?zem] чернозём — a fertile black soil rich in humus [‘hju?m?s], with a lighter lime-rich layer beneath. Such soils typically occur in temperate grasslands such as the Russian steppes and North American prairies [‘pre?r?z] Origin: mid 19th cent.: from Russian, from ch?rny? ‘black’ + zemlya ‘earth.’

grassland [‘gr??sl?nd] сенокосное угодье; луг, пастбище

fodder crop [‘f?d?] кормовая культура

cropland пахотная земля; пахотное угодье

Caucasus [‘k??k?s?s] = Caucasus Mountains Кавказ,

latitude [‘l?t?tju?d ], [-?u?d] широта

legumes [‘legju?mz] бобовые

flax [fl?ks] лён

linseed [‘l?nsi?d] льняное семя linseed oil — льняное масло

soybean [‘s??bi?n] 1) соя 2) соевый боб soybean oil — соевое масло

tomato [t?’m??t?u] помидор, томат


Climatic and geographic factors limit Russia’s agricultural activity to about 10 percent of the country’s total land area. Of that amount, about 60 percent is used for crops, the remainder for pasture and meadow. In the European part of Russia, the most productive land is in the Central Chernozem Economic Region and the Volga Economic Region, which occupy the grasslands between Ukraine and Kazakstan. More than 65 percent of the land in those regions is devoted to agriculture. In Siberia and the Far East, the most productive areas are the southernmost regions. Fodder crops dominate in the colder regions, and intensity of cultivation generally is higher in European Russia. In the mid-1990s, about 15 percent of the working population was occupied in agriculture, with the proportion dropping slowly as the younger population left rural areas to seek economic opportunities elsewhere.


Grains are among Russia’s most important crops, occupying more than 50 percent of cropland. Wheat is dominant in most grain-producing areas. Winter wheat is cultivated in the North Caucasus and spring wheat in the Don Basin, in the middle Volga region, and in southwestern Siberia. Although Khrushchev expanded the cultivation of corn for livestock feed, that crop is only suitable for growth in the North Caucasus, and production levels have remained low compared with other grains. Barley, second to wheat in gross yield, is grown mainly for animal feed and beer production in colder regions as far north as 65° north latitude (the latitude of Arkhangel’sk) and well into the highlands of southern Siberia. Production of oats, which once ranked third among Russia’s grains, has declined as machines have replaced horses in farming operations.

Legumes became a common crop in state farms in the 1980s. Potatoes, a vital crop for food and for the production of vodka, are grown in colder regions between 50° and 60° north latitude. Sugar beet production has expanded in recent years; the beets are grown mainly in the rich black-earth districts of European Russia. Flax, also a plant tolerant of cold and poor soils, is Russia’s most important raw material for textiles, and the country produced about half the world’s flax crop in the 1980s. Flax also yields linseed oil, which together with sunflowers (in the North Caucasus) and soybeans (in the Far East) is an important source of vegetable oil. Production of fruits and vegetables increased as private farms began to expand around 1990. In the mid-1990s, the largest yields in that category were in cabbages, apples, tomatoes, and carrots.

Increased production of fodder crops and expansion of pastureland have supported Russia’s livestock industry, although economic conditions have caused cutbacks in animal holdings. Cattle are the most common form of livestock except in the drier areas, where sheep and goats dominate. The third-largest category is pigs, which are raised in areas of European Russia and the Pacific coast that offer grain, potatoes, or sugar beets as fodder. Only very small numbers of chickens are kept, and frozen chicken has become one of Russia’s largest import items.