In Belarus, much as elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, the problem “who will produce food for the country?” is a political problem. Normally the answer is “collective and state farms”, supported by the powerful agrarian lobby, which is unwilling to lose a source of state finance. The result is known to everyone – huge budgetary funds are spent and food products are still a deficit. However, the authorities like the idea and do not grudge the money spent from the budget because the system allows them to control people, who live in rural districts and get their guaranteed votes.

The post-Soviet countries, which abandoned the system of collective farms, have long forgotten food deficits. However, politicians in those countries are facing a new problem of attracting villagers’ votes. As a rule, those who have them are in power.

Our survey showed that people’s opinions regarding collective and state farms are controversial. The majority of respondents (almost two thirds) were sure that collective farms will remain the major agricultural producer in Belarus in ten years’ time (Table 1). Half of young people questioned also said they thought so.

Table 1. Will collective and state farms remain the major agricultural producer in 10 years? (%)

Table 2. Where is production more efficient – on collective or private farms? (%)

The opinions of some respondents are based on the belief that in 10 years it will be impossible to overcome the resistance of the agricultural lobby and conduct a reform. Others still believe the official propaganda and think that no-one but collective and state farms is able to produce food for people. However, over 50% of respondents (and two thirds of young people) are sure that private farmers will win the game in the long run, because the efficiency of their work is much higher (Table 2).