Monday, December 12, 2011

Conditions under which peasants can attain a good standard of living (c. 1930s, E. Europe)

The best peasant villages in Transdanubian Hungary are those of the German settlers. In the Bakony hills, in counties Tolna and Baranya, these have achieved a good standard, dependent, as in the Banat, on large farm units and family limitation for some generations back. They carry more live stock to the hectare than the big farms, but cultivate land equally well. They are well organized in milk co-operatives... Farms in these villages average 15 hectares in size, the original unit of settlement in the eighteenth century. Such farms keep 2 horses, 2-3 cows, 2-3 young cattle to feed to a weight of 500 kgs, 6-7 pigs for fattening to a weight of 100-150 kgs, selling 3 or 4 and eating the rest. In addition, they sell milk and eggs. Little corn is sold, usually only a few quintals of wheat. Some of the larger peasants, with farms of 25 hectares, specialize in lucerne production for seed and in horse and cattle breeding. Lucerne is the basis of their field system, taking one-third of the area, and has increased in recent years.

The good standard of living in both these regions, it is apparent, depends on live-stock farming; on the maintenance of fairly large peasant famrs, i.e. of at least 15 acres in size; and on a low population density due to rapid industrialization.

Thus the conditions under which peasants can attain a good standard of living are as follows:

1. Corn yields of 15-20 quintals per hectare.
2. A cattle density of 30 to 60 per 100 hectares.
3. A farm population density of 50-55 to the 100 hectares

This combination of factors of production gives a corn output of 20-30 quintals per head and a meat output of 5-9 quintals per head; the total output of corn, meat, and milk per head amounts to 25 quintals in Hungary, 50 in Bohemia.
~p109, The Economics of Peasant Farming, Doreen Warriner, 1939

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