In 1991, the USSR announced the independence of its former republics. After 1991, the privatized farms could not afford fertilizers or new machinery, causing yields to drop. Up to 1991, the Soviet Union was the world’s second leading power; yet despite its state-owned farming collectives yielding vast quantities of grain, vegetables, crops, fruit, dairy and meat, one quarter of output was wasted and the USSR had insufficient food to feed itself. There were often shortages of meat, milk, butter, grain (including feed) and vegetables. Most of the prime agricultural land was in western and central Russia (the steppes) with the rich black earth producing large grain yields, sugar beet, vegetables and livestock. Vineyards and grain production was found around the Black Sea. Cottons, orchards, vineyards and silk were produced in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Reindeer herding was practised in north Siberia. Sheep, cattle and goats grazed in the deserts and mountains of Russian Asia.
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