Stories of Nenets Autonomous Okrug

Nenets Autonomous Okrug


Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Russian: Не́нецкий автоно́мный о́круг; Nenets: Ненёцие автономной ӈокрук) Nenyotse avtonomnoy ɲokruk, or Nenetsia, is a federal subject of Russia (an autonomous okrug of Arkhangelsk Oblast).

It has an area of 176,700 km² and population of 41,546 as of the 2002 Census (the smallest of all federal subjects by population), 18,611 of whom live in Naryan-Mar, the administrative center.

Nenets has official status along with Russian in the district.

The arctic ecology of this area has a number of unique features derived from the extreme temperatures and unique geologic province. Polar bears are found in this locale; in fact, the sub-population found here is a genetically distinct taxon associated with the Barents Sea region. Nenetsia has a size of approximately 177,000 km2, more than four times the size of Switzerland. The district is around 320 km from north to south and around 950 km from east to west, stretching from Mys Bolvansky Nos in the north to the source of the Oma River in the south and Cape Kanin Nos in the west to the banks of the Kara River in the east.

Reindeer husbandry is considered central to the Nenets’ way of life, despite only 14% of Nenets people being involved in herding directly at the end of the twentieth century there are three “types” of Reindeer in the district: collective, personal and private. The majority of reindeer are owned by collective farms, with Nenets people employed to look after them. Those employed in such a capacity are then permitted to own additional personal reindeer, which do not require registration, nor a permit for grazing. The private reindeer are held by the association of reindeer herders, Erv, but these are very much the minority, with reports in 1997 indicating that over 70% of reindeer were held collectively, over 20% personally and only just over 2% privately.

The reindeer are kept, not only to provide for the families of the herders, but also to produce meat and antlers for sale this meat is mainly sold within the district, since the price of reindeer meat has traditionally been lower than pork or beef, but there are other markets in the Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk Oblast. These outlets are used mainly by groups such as Erv, which have come into existence since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Those groups that effectively represent a continuity of the old collective farm economy, such as Vyucheiksi and Kharp generally continue to provide their reindeer to a slaughterhouse as they have always done,which results in lower profits than are generated through Erv’s business plan, causing instability and debt amongst the collective farms though it is recognised that these collective farms do provide employment to those who would otherwise be without jobs.

There has been little significant change in the organisation of the reindeer herding enterprises between Soviet times and today, with little change in the number of businesses and those that continue to exist still practising the same business model, making changes only to the branding of the business.