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(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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be admitted that the position of agriculture as a
whole in Russia is still very bad. Improvement
is especially difficult in the famine districts, where
the inhabitants have too often lost the courage
and energy that are necessary.

Having sold everything last year to escape death,
and being without the live stock indispensable for
farming the land, the peasants have often sunk into
a state of dangerous despair. If our help is confined
to sending them food, they will get into the habit
of being helped and will become idlers. What is
wanted is to give them the means to work, to
transform relief into work for economic reconstruction.

“The peasants ought to be assisted by advances
rather than by gifts,” declared M. Jakovenko,
People’s Commissary for Agriculture, in a recent
conversation with me. “This is the only normal
way, from an economic point of view, and it
introduces a constructive element into the work of relief.”

How can other countries assist in this
reconstruction of Russian agriculture?

If important concessions of land were given to
groups of capitalists, who financed and organised
its rational cultivation, the general economic level
might possibly be raised. But I believe that much
quicker and more effective aid can be given in the
form of helping the farmers themselves and their

It is vital that the Russian peasant should not
get an impression that foreigners are exploiting
the difficult position in which he is placed, and that
they are coming to take the land away from him.

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