The primary factor in the economic life of Ukraine is agriculture, which, like in every other part of the USSR, occupies about four fifths of the population. The excellent conditions of the soil, occupied on very vast expanses by the è ernozem, allow a large and easy cultivation of cereals and beets. Above all, the region between the Dnieper and Dniester has particular value for agricultural production. Less productive are the lands of the extreme northern belt, where forests prevail and part of the soil is occupied by marshes and swamps. With all this, arable land covers about 65% of the entire surface, and in this respect Ukraine holds one of the first places in all of Europe, just as it is one of the countries, which have one of the lowest percentages of land. unproductive (just 7%). Forests also have a limited development and as a whole they occupy just 10% of the entire surface; the pastures do not exceed 12%. Finally, 6% is destined for specialized crops. For Ukraine 2007, please check extrareference.com.
In the region between the Dnepr and the Dnestr, which has all the characteristics of a colonial country for the distribution of the town, which arose in the vicinity of roads, waterways, springs, the best crops are those of cereals, barley, oats and mainly wheat. In the province of Vinnica, which partly corresponds to Podolia, the layer of black earth, which covers the mass of crystalline rocks, allows a large cultivation of wheat and sugar beets, while the violence of the winds hinders the development of tree vegetation. Another widely cultivated cereal is rye. No less fertile is the Dnieper valley, especially in the middle part. Towards the south, the lower fertility of the land and the aridity of the climate during the summer make agriculture less profitable. L’ Livestock farming, largely done in the wild, is also of paramount importance in Ukraine’s economic life. However, conditions have worsened compared to the pre-war era. The world war led to an initial depletion of livestock, the civil war aggravated the situation, and finally the resistance opposed by wealthy farmers (kulaki) to land reforms caused a new crisis. The best breeds are currently represented by cattle, which belong to the so-called podolic type. Poor horses, even if numerous.
Special crops are those of vegetables, legumes and water fruits (watermelons, poponi, cucumbers, etc.), of which the Russians make extensive use during the summer season, and, moreover, those of fruit trees. In the best sheltered valleys of Podolia it is possible to grow vines and from this came the name of the town of Vinnica. Another fairly extensive cultivation is that of tobacco.
Although it is the most profitable agricultural region in the USSR, it must not be believed that agricultural practices, despite the spread of new means of cultivation, have advanced very far, and if Ukraine produces in greater quantities than other parts of Russia, it must be evidently more to the natural fertility of the land than to the work and care of men. Plowing, sowing, harrowing, mowing and threshing of cereals are done with systems, if not primitive, certainly antiquated.
The conservation of the products itself takes place in a primitive way, so that it is not uncommon for a part of the heaps of wheat to deteriorate.
Finally, we will recall how river fishing is of great importance in the food sector.
Before Russia began exploiting the coal deposits of southern Siberia and other regions of its Asian dominions, coal was used from two large coalfields: the Uralic one, located north of Sverdlovsk, and the Ukrainian one, located at easternmost point of the same Ukrainian relief in the Donets basin. This was and still is very important, since it has a total extension of 16,000 sq km. and is easily usable due to the shallow depth of the layers. Its production has risen in recent years to about 30 million tons, which represents, in round figures, about 50% of the entire Soviet production. Furthermore, the quality in general is good, always higher than that of the other coalfields, so that the anthracites of Donec are distinguished by their brightness, very black color, compactness, uniform combustion and very high heat. Being usable for any use, they are highly sought after and therefore exported on a large scale.
No less important, both for Ukraine and for the entire USSR, is the mining district of Krivoj Rog, where two thirds of Russian iron are extracted, ie from 6 to 9 million tons. annually. Ukraine would thus produce 58% of the iron ore and 68% of the pig iron. It is therefore natural that heavy industry in Ukraine developed at a faster rate and in greater proportions than in other regions of the USSR. But Ukrainian heavy industry also suffered greatly as a result of the revolution and civil war. The use of iron for military purposes at first, the lack of means of transport, the ruin of many blast furnaces, the stagnation of exports, caused a complete paralysis and therefore a crisis in the production of fuel and raw minerals that lasted until 1923. But since the USSR initially devoted all its attention to the reorganization of heavy industry, since its development depends on the fortunes of many other industries and especially the armament of the army and navy, so Ukraine has seen the fortunes of its industrial activity rise again. At present the most characteristic center for iron working is Krivoj Rog (Krivi Rih in Ukrainian), located at the confluence of the Saksaga with the Ingulec, a huge aggregate of metallurgical, mechanical, chemical, etc. factories and workers’ houses. The iron ore, mined in your district, has a very high content, that is 62-67%. The first use of it dates back to 1870. Another great center for the processing of iron and steel is Stalin. The mechanical industry has also developed in Dnepropetrovsk, Kiev, Izjom, Odessa and Nikolaev, where there are good shipyards. The great development of the electricity industry has greatly contributed to the industrial recovery, which reaches its highest expression in the grandiose barrier of the Dnieper in Zaporož′e, carried out through considerable difficulties and for which it was necessary to build a dam 760 m long. and 52 m high, raising the water level above the rapids by over 2 meters. The force developed by the power plant, and which is distributed throughout the Donec basin, exceeds 300,000 cav. and, once the plants are completed, it will supply at least 800,000.
Good agricultural production naturally favors the development of industries that draw their raw material from it. The most important of all is that of sugar, whose main center is Kiev, where it is also the most active market. Other industries are those of soaps, candles, sugar, spirits, tobacco, which are found in Charkov, Kiev, Odessa, Žitomir, Sumy, Izjom, etc. In Žitomir, Charkov there are glove factories. Elsewhere there are factories of linen and cotton fabrics, tanneries, etc. In some centers the specialization of products has also been promoted, such as in Odessa, where cinematographic and photographic machines and tools are manufactured. Other industries are those of superphosphates, corks, fish glues, glassworks and ceramics.
In Ukraine, like the other rural centers of the USSR, there is no lack of winter domestic industry, exercised by peasants during the long months of forced inactivity. Indeed in Ukraine some products, and particularly the embroidered linen fabrics, are better cared for and more characteristic than elsewhere, and from Ukraine they spread to the rest of the USSR The domestic industry suffered greatly during the World War and the revolution, although during this it was the only industry that did not remain completely paralyzed; despite the new economic orientations of the country it has now recovered and has resumed the rhythm of its production: these peasant-workers (kustari) particularly produce linen fabrics, leather works, metal works, such as samovars, plates, cups, candlesticks, etc., in wood, specially painted or lacquered, etc. At one time this production was also partly exported abroad.
The Ukrainian industry, despite the development achieved, is not exempt from the defects found in all Russian industries. First of all, there is a shortage of technical elements, both among the managerial staff and among the operating staff. It cannot be denied that there are active, ingenious people with a remarkable professional culture, but compared to the needs required by such a complex industrial organization, their number is absolutely insufficient. The workforce is quite ready to learn, but this does not make up for the lack of that long training that ensures the regularity and perfection of the work. Another serious obstacle to the balanced development of every industry is the still insufficient development of transport, both due to the influx of raw materials to production centers.
Often then the products, particularly the mechanical ones, are of poor quality. Serious deficiency, even if up to now the need to have various machines and products of the mechanical industries has been able to justify a hasty and less than perfect production.