The Great Famine 1958-62

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China always suffered from famines caused by natural disasters, but the Great Famine had five main causes which were caused by the leadership refusing to face reality at the Lushan Conference in 1959.

1. The development of the commune system at the same time as the 2nd 5YP.

Mao was expecting too much too soon. Peasants couldn't complete several tasks at once, such as backgroung furnaces, crop groing and water conservation projects. The facilities of the communes often weren't even in place, meaning the resources weren't even suitable. China's main asset was meant to be the huge population, but small-scale farmers were now expected to generate huge surpluses because they were living in a commune. Transport and communication systems were too poor to transport what little surplus there was.

2. Lysenkoism

Mao's acceptance of Lysenkoism and his insistance that it must be applied in full had a huge effect on the amount of crops that were produced. Mao believed Lysenko's claim that his "super crops" would grow 16x more than using conventional methods. Mao was always dismissive of experts, but few were on hand anyway because they had been purged in the anti-rightist campaign. Peasants were expected to use new methods that contradicted…


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