Prodrazvyorstka (also Prodrazverstka; Russian: Продразвёрстка, продовольственная развёрстка) was a Bolshevik policy and campaign of confiscation of grain and other agricultural produce from the peasants for a nominal fixed price according to specified quotas (the noun razvyorstka, and the verb razverstat' refer to the partition of the requested total amount as obligations from the suppliers).
The term is commonly associated with war communism during the Russian Civil War when it was introduced by the Bolshevik government. However Bolsheviks borrowed the idea from the grain razvyorstka introduced in the Russian Empire during World War I, in 1916.
World War I grain razvyorstka
1916 saw a food crisis in the Russian Empire. While the harvest was good in Lower Volga Region and Western Siberia, its transportation by railroads collapsed. In addition, the food market was in disarray. Fixed prices for government purchases were unattractive. A decree of November 29, 1916 (signed by Aleksandr Rittich (Александр Риттих), of the Ministry of Agriculture) introduced razvyorstka as the collection of grain for defense purposes. The Russian Provisional Government established after the February Revolution of 1917 could not propose any incentives for peasants, and their state monopoly on grain sales failed to achieve its goal.
In 1918, the center of the Soviet Russia was cut off from the most important agricultural regions of the country. The reserves of bread were running short, causing hunger among the urban population, where support for the Bolshevik government was strongest. In order to satisfy the minimal food needs, the Soviet government introduced a strict control over the food surpluses of the prosperous rural households. Since many peasants were extremely unhappy with this policy and tried to resist it, they were branded as "saboteurs" of the bread monopoly of the state and advocates of the free "predatory", "speculative" trade. Lenin believed that prodrazvyorstka was the only possible way to procure sufficient amounts of bread and other agricultural products for the population of the cities during the war.
Before prodrazvyorstka the concept of "produce dictatorship" was introduced, by the May 9, 1918 decree of Lenin "О продовольственной диктатуре". This and other subsequent decrees ordered forced collection of foodstuff, without any limitations, and used the army to accomplish this.
Prodrazvyorstka was introduced all over Soviet Russia on January 11, 1919 by the Decree of the Sovnarkom. Prodrazvyorstka was also introduced in Ukraine and Belarus (1919), Turkestan and Siberia (1920). In accordance with the decree of the People's Commissariat for Provisions on the procedures of prodrazvyorstka (January 13, 1919), the amount of different kinds of products designated for collection by the state (some historians [weasel words] call it an outright confiscation) was calculated on the basis of the data on each guberniya's areas under crops, crop capacity and reserves of the past years. In guberniyas, the collection plan was broken down between uyezds, volosts, villages, and then separate peasant households. The collection procedures were performed by the agencies of the People's Commissariat for Provisions and prodotryads (продовольственный отряд, food brigades) with the help of kombeds (комитет бедноты, committees of the poor) and local Soviets.
Initially, prodrazvyorstka covered the collection of bread and fodder. During the procurement campaign of 1919–20, prodrazvyorstka also included potato and meat. By the end of 1920, it included almost every kind of agricultural products. According to the Soviet statistics, the authorities collected 107.9 million poods (1.77 million metric tons) of bread and fodder in 1918–19, 212.5 million poods (3.48 million metric tons) in 1919–20, and 367 million pounds (6.01 million metric tons) in 1920–21.
Prodrazvyorstka allowed the Soviet government to solve an important problem of supplying the Red Army and urban population and providing raw material for different industries. Prodrazvyorstka left its mark on the commodity-money relations, since the authorities had prohibited selling of bread and grain. It also influenced many, if not all, aspects of relations between the city and the village and became one of the most important elements of the system of the war communism.
With the end of the Russian Civil War, prodrazvyorstka lost its actuality. Moreover, it did much damage to the agricultural sector and caused peasants' growing discontent. As the government switched to NEP, prodrazvyorstka was exchanged for prodnalog (food tax) by the decree of the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in March 1921.
- Dronin, Nikolai; Bellinger, Edward (2005), Climate Dependence and Food Problems in Russia, 1900–1990: The Interaction of Climate and Agricultural Policy and Their Effect on Food Problems, pp. 65, 66, ISBN 963-7326-10-3.
- "г. session of State Duma", Free Duma (in Russian), RU: Kodeks, 14 February 1917, where Rittich reports on the introduction and results of the grain razvyorstka.
- Lenin, VI (1965), Collected Works 32, Moscow: Progress Publishers, p. 187.