Ecological damage has left much of the country devoid of animal life. The country, a member of the former Soviet Union, was part of Nikita Krushchev's 1954 "Virgin-Lands" plan. Khrushchev wanted Soviet farmers to grow cotton and grain on the steppes of Uzbekistan. At one point the country grew 70% of the Soviet Union's cotton. Unfortunately the farmers had to irrigate the crops to obtain meaningful results. Now the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers run dry in certain places. Half of the Aral Sea is now a dry lake bed and the land is poisoned from the overuse of fertilizer.