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How Successful were Mao’s Agricultural policies?. Noel Dube 12R. The Reform of Agriculture. Land reform was a policy introduced to go along with Mao’s industrialization plans Not enough people working in urban areas N ot enough food being produced to feed people working in urban areas

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the reform of agriculture
The Reform of Agriculture
  • Land reform was a policy introduced to go along with Mao’s industrialization plans
    • Not enough people working in urban areas
    • Not enough food being produced to feed people working in urban areas
      • Peasants blamed for eating the food
  • “Educate peasants to eat less, and have more thin gruel. The state should try it’s hardest to prevent peasants eating too much”
  • Peasants were put into collective farms-communes
collectivization 1949 1956
Collectivization 1949-1956
  • After the 1949 revolution and overthrowing of the landlords, the government began taking land back
  • Peasants had to pool their resources and form farm collectives
  • Collective principles were gradually forcibly extended

Collectivization During the Great Leap Forward

  • agricultural land was divided into 70,000 communes
  • each commune had about 750,000 brigades
  • each brigade had 200 households
  • the whole system was under PRC control (farming methods, pricing, sale & distribution)
  • private farms no longer existed
  • peasants needed a passport to move from one commune to another
mao s agricultural policies
Mao’s agricultural Policies


“the voice of scientific truth”

He developed techniques that would result in yields 16 times better than using traditional methods

Mao’s 8 point agricultural constitution based on Lysenko’s theories

  • Popularization of new breeds of seeds
  • Close planting
  • Deep ploughing
  • Increased fertilization
  • Improved field management
  • Pest control
  • Increased irrigation
effects of mao s agricultural policies
Effects of Mao’s agricultural Policies

The Great Famine:

Life had been disturbed too much by collectivization, famine couldn’t be prevented

Forced labor camps had to be expanded to take in the starving peasants who fell afoul of the authorities

Hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) starved to death in these camps)

50 million people died throughout China

Cases of cannibalism, slavery in exchange of food, and prostitution were common


Provinces with the highest death tolls

7.5 mill.

7.8 mill.

8 mill.

1 mill.

9 mill.

1 mill.

conspiracy of silence
Conspiracy of Silence
  • Party cadres reported back to Beijing that production targets were being met
  • In turn the government would take the reported quantities
  • Officials ignored the starvation and poverty
  • Party members too worried to speak out against Mao’s policies
  • Lushan Conference 1959
  • PengDehuai spoke about his first hand experience with the famine
  • “I saw my people lying dead and dying in the field and by the roadside”
  • He was putsched and brought out Mao’s anger, leading all other party members to be too scared to imply that the Great Leap Forward was a failure,
reversing the damage
Reversing the Damage
  • Lui & Deng, in the absence of Mao, reinitiated private farming, and opened the markets
    • Gave the peasants incentive to produce surplus stocks

This essentially represented the unspoken failure of the commune system

was it mao s fault
Was it Mao’s Fault?
  • Ultimately-yes, without any doubt.
  • He refused to acknowledge the disaster as result of his policies of collectivization and applied socialist science, instead coming up with 3 main reasons
    • Bad weather
    • Peasants hoarded grain
    • Mistakes of local officials due to incompetence and misunderstanding/miscommunication

Mao’s pursuit of his instructions regarding the collectivization of the peasants, and his mistaken notions of science that lead to the death of millions.

Mao felt his reputation had been hurt so he retreated from public view, leaving the crisis in the hands of Liu and Deng.


Impact of the Great Famine

“arc of misery”

Social disruption


Deliberate Policy



Bad Weather

Why was it so severe?

Disorientation of the peasants

Lushan conference suppressed the truth

Refusal of officials to admit scale of hunger

Mao’s refusal to face facts

Deliberate genocide

A conspiracy of silence