Harvesting Under Fire

Harvesting Under Fire

A farmstead in eastern Ukraine A farmstead in eastern Ukraine

December 23, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) In eastern Ukraine, family-run farms are feeling the impact of the ongoing conflict. A new UN survey paints a bleak picture for food security and agricultural productivity.

77-year-old farmer Rayisa Shenderovska explains what life is like for her family: “We bought some cabbage, which might last the winter. I will make it last as long as possible. Our potatoes are small, but I cook them for my granddaughter. And that’s all. We don’t have any fats, butter, or oils, and we don’t even have a shop here. If my son doesn't bring me bread, I will go hungry, because there is a bread shortage. I have to go to Luhanka or Myronovka, but I have trouble walking. If I have to go farther than the yard, I use a walking stick, and that’s it.”

Many of the farmers depend on food aid, but the FAO survey recommends immediate provision of the basic farming equipments and inputs needed to maintain local crop and livestock production. But while the conflict continues, life here can never be normal.

“We plant our garden under fire and harvest under fire,” says Tatyana Avdeyeva. “As a result, we don’t have enough potatoes. We pay high prices for onion and carrot, since a bomb exploded in our garden. It was very hard to plant a vegetable garden and harvest our produce.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has already distributed potato seeds, animal feeds, and chickens to the most vulnerable families. But if all the needy families are to be reached, operations need to be scaled up. Many farmers are also migrating to find work, killing livestock and planting less to deal with the production challenges.

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