Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Gas Line, cont’d.

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I had meant to make the previous post about the gas line construction a bit more relevant.  Instead, I was just complaining about the dirt path that now goes down the middle of the main street in Lənkəran.

One detail we’ll focus on is the large blue tractor that was used to create the initial cuts in the pavement.  It looked to be about a 30-year old tractor, probably from the days of collective farms here during the Soviet Union.  This is an object lesson in what’s going on here because of the fall of the Soviets and the drastic changes in agriculture development.

After the implosion of the Soviet system, Azerbaijan, and many other countries, were left with a crumbling commune/collective farm system.  These were large farms dedicated to mass production of staples of the Russian-imported cousine, like cabbage and potatoes and mayonnaise.  OK…they didn’t grow mayonnaise.  But the way they use it you might think it grows on trees.  In any case, there were huge tracts of land dedicated to agricultural production and a ton of farmers who no longer had a formal employer.  And all of the capital dedicated to farming was for big farming.

As the system was crumbling, the Azerbaijani government acted to implement some reforms.  They charged the agriculture university in Gəncə with leading the reform.  A few experts at the university managed to divide up all the collective farmland into over 800,000 slices for individual farmers.  When you divide up all the land into that many pieces you end up with a pretty small chunk for individuals.  It came out to about 0.7 Hectares (~1.5 acres) per farmer.  After years of big farms, suddenly everyone was left with a relatively minuscule tract.

What does this have to do with the large blue tractor?  I think it probably allowed the large blue tractor be be on that street at all.  After each farmer was apportioned a small amount of land, those huge machines became nearly obsolete for the type of farming that has been taking place.  And who was going to distribute the large farm machinery, anyways?  So instead, things like those huge tractors get used for something else, like construction.  Few farmers could use such an implement, and only a few are needed in any given village.  Instead of building serious construction machines, why not use the perfectly good farm implements that can do the job?  Ingenious.

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Written by Aaron

February 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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