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Grain requisitions from peasant households by the Soviet state during the period of war communism (19181921). These grain requisitions were compulsory, although official policy stated that food deliveries were to come from peasant surpluses of food. In reality, state policy took two main forms: very low prices paid to peasants for their grain, so that the requisition essentially amounted to confiscation; or outright confiscation of all the grain possessed by the peasantry, with no payment. The policy of grain requisition was used as an instrument of class warfare in the countryside, setting poor and middle peasants against rich peasants, the so-called kulaks. The policy of prodrazverstka was bitterly opposed by the vast majority of peasants and led to widespread violence in the countryside against the committees of poor peasants (kombedy ) that worked for the Soviet state to seize grain that was being hoarded by peasant households. In response to the confiscation of their grain, peasant households drastically reduced the acreage cultivated and the amount of grain produced, which led to mass starvation and famine throughout the nation.

Grain requisitions were replaced with a food tax during the period of the New Economic Policy (19211928). However, prodrazverstka was reintroduced during the collectivization drive of the 1930s and expanded to include not only grains but other food commodities as well. The policy of food requisitions became an integral part of the planned economy, evolving into a system of state orders (goszakazy ) in which state and collective farms were required to sell defined volumes of their production to state procurement agents, such as state-owned food processors, at state-regulated prices. State orders remained in effect until the end of the Soviet Union.

See also: agriculture; peasantry; prodnalog


Carr, Edward Hallet. (1952). A History of Soviet Russia: The Bolshevik Revolution, 19171923, vol. 2. New York: Macmillan.

Medvedev, Zhores A. (1987). Soviet Agriculture. New York: Norton.

Nove, Alec. (1982). An Economic History of the USSR. New York: Penguin.

Stephen K. Wegren