The Ukraine Report: Bread factory saved farmers and residents from starving during the attacks

Throughout the past year, Ukrainian agriculture has suffered tremendously. We are learning about how a bread factory saved some farmers.

“Now we are in the heart of our farm. This is our bakery, which is working only at night. The 7 bakery employees produce 4,000 loaves daily.”

Beyond the farm, Mykola Bantov has several other enterprises, allowing him to achieve almost complete self-sufficiency with production. An elevator nearby operates the bakery as well as the mill and crushing plant.

How has the war impacted the work on the bakery?

“It made us stronger, braver, and wiser, but it did not stop bread production except for two days when I had to take up arms in the territorial defense. Together with others, we guarded our farm and people trusted that we could protect them. Despite the danger, the staff continued to work and bake bread, although it was terrifying. We were in the rear when the Russians were bombing. Thanks to our bakery, thanks to our workers, we survived.

“People were baking bread non-stop. The ovens are working, everything is filled with bread again. However, the ovens are getting out of order. But I think there will be enough bread for today. Come ask for bread,” said Bantov.

For 30 days, the Russians occupation forces shelled with heavy artillery and bombs at residential areas. All the time, Bantov’s company continued to make bread, and fearless drivers delivered it to people, hospitals, and soldiers in the area. In the most tried weeks, bread was given away for free. The company itself was shelled three times. The external surveillance cameras recorded the attacks on his agricultural enterprise on March 16th-17th. The next morning, despite the shock and new threats, the workers resumed their work.

“When we were notified that there was a threat of shelling somewhere near us, we are forced to leave the field. Losing a tractor worth $350,000 is devastating to our farm. If the tractor is damaged, our sowing campaign will collapse. We work only during the day because it’s fearful and dangerous at night. We can see Russia from here and they can see us. When the tractor, such as New Holland or a CLAAS combine, is driving across our field, they are visible with their powerful lights. So, our machinery was visible from afar and we had to work only during the day.”

Regardless of all these challenges, Ukrainian agriculture enterprises keep running, machinery stays on, and most importantly, people continue their work. Grain flows from Ukrainian fields to consumers around the world. While the armed forces of Ukraine are defending the country and its land from invaders, Ukrainian farmers are taking care of global food security. Farmers even strive to increase their productivity.

“Our goal reads as follows: get a million per hectare, not a million hectares.”

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.