How Accurate Is It to Say That Mao Zedong’s Agricultural Policies from 1949 Were the Most Important Reason for the Famine of 1959-62?

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How accurate is it to say that Mao Zedong’s agricultural policies from 1949 were the most important reason for the famine of 1959-62? Mao introduced many agricultural policies during the build-up to the great famine in 1959-62. Many policies, such as Collectivisation, have been criticised by many historians as being the most important factor in determining the great famine. However, there were also factors outside of Mao’s agricultural policies such as the conspiracy of silence and the fact that China had poor weather in the year leading up to the famine. Collectivisation was a major cause of the great famine. Collectivisation involved the peasants joining together to farm collectively rather than individually. They then had to share the food produced with the rest of the community, rather than just with their families. This removed the incentive for the peasants to produce as much as possible as they were not going to be as directly affected by their own levels of production. Collectivisation was introduced by Mao in 1958, in 1958 production rate of food was at 200 million tonnes, but by 1960 the production rate had fallen to 143.5 million. Within 2 years one of Mao’s own policies had caused a fall in production rate of 56.5 million. Despite the figures Mao insisted that many peasants were growing more food than necessary and keeping some for themselves, Mao accused the peasants of being ‘inherently capitalist’ and that they were against being a part of a communist state. The policy of collectivisation contributed hugely to the scale of the famine; the peasants resented the change as they didn’t have enough land to farm their crops, on top of this the authorities believed that they needed to be ‘strictly controlled and directed’. This attitude towards the peasants amplified the issues of collectivisation and caused scale of the famine to worsen. Lysenkoism was
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