Have you ever spoken to someone who thinks they know more about your job or industry than you do when they aren’t even in it? It’s annoying—especially if they know absolutely nothing about that industry.
It happens all the time. And, unfortunately, it happens on a much larger scale, too.
Take agriculture, for example. Politicians and billionaires have all sorts of ideas about agriculture going green. While this is a great idea (I mean, who really wants more pesticides in their body?), it's a lot more difficult and needs more time than they seem to understand. It can’t and shouldn’t happen overnight.
The problem is, when people with power start trying to modernize or “rethink” farming – an industry they know little to nothing about – it can result in devastating consequences.
Like the Great Chinese Famine that occurred under the leadership of Mao.
The Five-Year Plan Initiatives
In the early 1950s, the People’s Republic of China had big goals and embarked on a Soviet-style program of industrialization, known as a five-year plan.
So they created five-year plans—or a set of economic initiatives that began in 1953 with hopes of gaining power and global recognition.
Here’s how it worked: The Chinese Communist Party issued directives for achieving goals during each five-year plan.
Each five-year plan built off the plan before it, with the previous ones paving the way for the next five-year plan, and so on.
The five-year plans are still used today, with China currently in its 14th iteration.
The First FiveYear Plan (1953 - 1957)
The first five-year plan began under the leadership of Mao in 1953. The main goal was to decrease foreign imports significantly and increase the outputs of heavy industry, such as steel.
The initial plan was for the agriculture yields to feed the urban Chinese population and help support industrial growth.
Not a bad idea, right? Except, as with many lofty goals politicians promote, it didn’t exactly happen—and it set the stage for one of the worst man-made catastrophes the world has ever seen.
From 1953-1957, industry increased significantly in China, and there was a huge shift from rural to urban populations. At the same time, the rural agricultural community already showed signs of suffering.
One part of the first five-year plan involved turning to agricultural collectivization—forcing farming households to become collectivized.
Essentially, farms went from individual ownership to collective ownership grouped by village. Families received income based on how much land they contributed to the collective. Then, income shares were based on how much labor was contributed.
According to reports, “The collectivization process began slowly but accelerated in 1955 and 1956. In 1957 about 93.5 percent of all farm households had joined advanced producers' cooperatives.”
With all these changes, officials were shocked to see that they still needed to significantly increase agricultural outputs to keep up with urban needs.
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The Second Five-Year Plan: The Great Leap Forward (1958 - 1962)
But this wasn’t enough for the government. Mao wanted to industrialize China even faster, so in 1958, the Great Leap Forward was announced. This ushered in the second five-year plan.
Mao aimed to “make China a major industrial power overnight rapidly raising industrial and agricultural production.”
It was too much, too fast, and put into play by someone with no knowledge of farming.
Now that the agricultural community was collectivized during the first five-year plan, the Communist Party completely controlled them.
Citizens were mandated to create backyard factories for steel production, and the Party encouraged peasants to melt their cooking pots and utensils into steel for the cause.
Farmers were encouraged to make steel this way rather than grow crops – which was counterproductive to their plans to produce enough food yields to feed the urban Chinese population and help support industrial growth.
Add in Mao’s ridiculous ideas about farming and bad weather problems, and there was no “great leap forward.”
Instead, the second five-year plan resulted in absolute devastation.
From Bad to Worse: Mao’s Mandates on Farming
We’ve already made it clear that Mao didn’t know much about farming—and had no business dictating farming methods to actual farmers.
I think you’ll agree when you consider the following.
- Mao pushed agricultural collectivization and placed military leaders in charge. These leaders had little to no knowledge of agriculture.
- Mao pushed the farmers to plant more than one rice crop a year, even when he was told the weather didn’t support it.
- Mao ordered deeper plowing of the soil, which destroyed the topsoil.
- Mao ordered farmers to plant seeds closer together – not allowing them the breathing space they needed.
- Mao ordered the killing of birds (sparrows) because they ate grain seeds. According to FEE, “In what is one of the most bizarre and ecologically damaging episodes of the Great Leap Forward, the country was mobilized in an all-out war against the birds. Banging on drums, clashing pots or beating gongs, a giant din was raised to keep the sparrows flying till they were so exhausted that they simply dropped from the sky. Eggs were broken and nestlings destroyed; the birds were also shot out of the air.” Without birds, the locusts and grasshoppers were free to devour crops.
- Mao militarized agriculture with forced military-like routines for farming.
- Human waste was used as fertilizer.
- Farming tools were melted down for steel, disabling production.
Mao’s lack of knowledge about agriculture produced farming strategies that damaged acres of farmland and significantly decreased crop yields.
And his leadership brought devastation to the land and left millions of people dead.
The Result: The Deadliest Famine in Human History (1959 - 1961)
Stories of the suffering and death of the Great Chinese Famine—brought on by the Great Leap Forward—are so horrific, it’s hard to retell them. And, for the purpose of this article, we’re not going to go into details.
Here’s what you need to know: Millions upon millions of Chinese citizens starved to death or lost their humanity trying to survive.
San Jose Department of Economics explains, “Altogether about thirty million people died in the famine. The famine was caused by the shortfall in food production but this was a result of the bad policies and centralization of power in the central government. It was made worse by the refusal to admit the problem.”
Yang Jisheng breaks it down further, “It is ‘equivalent to 450 times the number of people killed by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki … and greater than the number of people killed in the first world war.’”
Takeaways for Today
It’s been said that whoever controls the food, controls the people. There is no better example than the Great Chinese Famine under Mao. A mix of power, greed, and ignorance resulted in utter devastation.
Unfortunately, something similar is happening today.
When governments try to “rethink” how farmers have successfully produced food for centuries, it leads to problems.
Let’s use green energy as an example. While setting a goal of switching to renewable energy sources is admirable, it cannot be rushed.
In April 2021, Sri Lanka banned chemical fertilizers in an effort to move the country toward a fully organic agricultural industry. The quick push devastated one of their largest industries by drastically reducing crop yields and damaging the trade balance.
As a result, the country was forced to rely on imports for food. Then, when Sri Lanka was unable to pay for these imports, they quickly experienced shortages. And we all know the rest of that story: People are starving.
And now, our Federal government is pushing green practices with the new Inflation Reduction Act, which most experts agree won’t do much to combat inflation. Instead, it’s packed with climate change initiatives—including paying farmers NOT to farm and manipulating centuries-old farming practices. Stop and let that last sentence sink in.
As we’ve seen, it’s already happened in centuries-old Europe. And now, it looks like it’s going to happen here, too.
Gain More Insight into Potential Food Threats In: The Perfect Storm Is Here – Global Food Crisis
Stay alert and stay strong, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply