Agroholdings, Technology, and the Political Economy of Russian Agriculture

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Susanne A. Wengle


This article details the rise of Russian agricultural corporations, known as the agroholdings. These companies have accumulated control of Russia’s most fertile land over the last 20 years and have become the main producers of agricultural commodities and processed food. They are also the driving force of a profound technological transformation of agriculture and food production during this time. A core claim of this article is that the technopolitics of twenty-first-century Russian agriculture made the meteoric rise of agroholdings possible. Technology was central to both the economic and political roles of these large, vertically integrated agricultural conglomerates. Agroholdings grew rapidly because they adopted cutting-edge agricultural technologies that maximized yields and economic efficiency. Agroholdings’ control of technologies earned them, in turn, the political support they needed to thrive in the state capitalist system of the Putin era. They were privileged allies of President Vladimir Putin’s government, which sought to enlist them for the political goals of strengthening domestic farming and food production and reducing Russia’s dependence on food imports. More broadly, the article suggests that a technopolitical lens recasts and improves our understanding of the political economy of post-Soviet Russia. Technopolitics reveals the role of both the state and corporate actors, of power and capital, in the construction of a new economic order and draws attention to how these processes shape post-Soviet byt.

Article in English

DOI: 10.25285/2078-1938-2021-13-1-57-80


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