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108

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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108 RUSSIA AND PEACE
For a shirt he would need 4 arschins, which
formerly cost him 52 kopeks, or rather over half
a gold rouble ; now he has to pay 4 poods (66
kilos) of flour for it.
As the peasantry form 80 per cent. of the
Russian people, it is easy to see that the peasants’
poverty prevents the reconstruction of industry,
which is unable to seil what it produces.
Moreover, agriculture has to cope with other
serious difficulties. Owing to the reduced cultiva
tion of land, weeds have got the upper hand, and
home grown seed-corn is often largely affected
by this admixture. The menace of insect pests,
especially locusts, has also grown worse on account
of the large areas of uncultivated land and of
proper means to fight against them. The locusts
caused great damage last year.
A dangerous enemy of the Russian farmer is
the host of field rats—the so-called susliks. These
threaten to do great damage in a number of
districts this year, as, for instance, in the Tsaritsin
Government. According to statistics, at least one
sixth of the total Russian harvest is destroyed by
susliks. In 1 919 about 3 million dessiatines (a
dessiatine is 27 acres) of European Russia were
ravaged by these pests. In 1922 4,222,283
dessiatines in the Southern Volga region alone
were attacked by them, out of which no less
than 1,664,347 dessiatines were in the Tsaritsin
Government. In addition, 30,326 dessiatines were
attacked by locusts. The " Narkomtsem "—
Commissariat for Agriculture—has estimated the

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