As part of the first five-year plan, collectivisation was introduced in the Soviet Union by general secretary Joseph Stalin in the late 1920s as a way, according to the policies of socialist leaders, to boost agricultural production through the organisation of land and labor into large-scale collective farms (kolkhozy). At the same time, Joseph Stalin argued that collectivisation would free poor peasants from economic servitude under the kulaks (farmland owners).
Stalin resorted to mass murder and wholesale deportation of farmers to Siberia in order to implement the plan. Millions who remained did not die of starvation, but the centuries-old system of farming was destroyed in a region so fertile it was once called “the breadbasket of Europe”. The immediate effects of forced collectivisation were reduced grain output and almost halved livestock numbers, thus creating major famines throughout the USSR during 1932 and 1933. In 1932–1933, an estimated 11 million people, 3–7 million in Ukraine alone, died from famine after Stalin forced the peasants into collectives (Ukrainians call this famine Holodomor). It was not until 1940 that agricultural production finally surpassed its collectivisation levels.
Whilst by the time of the Chernobyl disaster things had improved, the system still had problems and these farms have been left as they were in 1986.