Oksana SYLKA


The history of Ukrainian agricultural societies is a history of village public initiative that aimed to overcome archaism in the agrarian sector. This history is a background of the Ukrainian and general- Empire process of the development of village communities; on the other hand, it is a necessary sign of forming the civic society in the Russian Empire in the early 20th century.

This study concerns those statute agricultural societies that were accountable to Central administrative board of the system of land tenure and agriculture (until 1905 to the Ministry of agriculture and state property. It does not cover the agricultural cooperative organizations (communities, artels, and clubs) that were subordinated to the Department of village economy and agricultural statistics or Administration of the small credits.

The aim is to study the village component to the common system of the public communities whose activity took place in the civil society formulation in Russian Empire. It should be done on the base of complex scientific research that studied the village public communities formulation and activity processes in Ukraine, especially in the Left-bank Ukraine in the end of 19th – the early 20th centuries

The accurate systematical information in this article concerns appearance and functioning of some agricultural communities in Chernihiv province. It gives the grounds to confirming that 108 communities of researched type held their activity in 1914. This figure is used in the historiography for the first time.

There were 15 districts in Chernihiv province and the functioning of agricultural communities was noticed in 14 of them (instead of Novhorod-Siverskiy). Only nine of district centers had agricultural communities. We do not reckon Chernihiv district, because agricultural community in Chernihiv has a province level. The presence of agricultural communities in volost centers: Borzna district – 50%, Horodnyad. – 20%, Kozelets d. – 71,4%, Konotop d. – 26,7%, Krolevets d. – 60%, Mhlyn d. – 11,8%, Nizhyn d. – 92,3%, Novozybkiv d. – 27,3%, Oster d. – 11,1%, Sosnytsya d. – 7,1%, Surazh d. – 6,7%, Starodub d. – 16,7%, Chernihiv d. – 33,3%. The average number of volost centers’ agricultural communities in district is 29,4%.The area of village agricultural communities is less than the volost ones. In the end of 1913 only 41 agricultural communities worked in Chernihiv province.

The main goal of agricultural communities activity was the educational-enlightenment, activity research projects. In addition to that, the agrarian enlightenment was marked as a main direction of the agricultural communities’ members’ public activity. Some positive impact on the village traditional world was made by additional structural elements in the work of communities. These were stations of agricultural implements for rent, agricultural warehouses, impregnate stations, consumer shops, libraries, grain-cleaning posts. Trying to influence some peasant farms in a way of demonstrative example the communities created model plots, sample of animals’ feed and model bee-gardens. The organization of agricultural exhibitions by the communities is referred to the same category.

The agricultural communities’ activity caused the appearance of the small but stable peasants stratum that kept their farms in a new way, using scientific knowledge (the activity was realizing with the help of zemstvo specialists and financial support of zemstvo and government). Those peasants were able to get rid of traditionalism and conservatism in the methods and means of their work, and they became the pathfinders of the new agriculture.

Notwithstanding the lack of the agricultural communities’ systems’ territorial coverage for the village population in Chernihiv province, we can state that the system of civil statute agricultural communities was noticed in the end of 19th – the early 20th centuries. The positive dynamics of their quantitative increase was confirmed; the agricultural communities as the voluntary public organizations were pointed and accepted as an element of civil society formation, with other village communities.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.30970/fhi.2017.18.2294


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