The Ukraine Report: Community bands together to help a small farm damaged by the war

We are getting a closer look at a farm that was directly targeted by Russia and the efforts underway to get it back up and running.

This week we are in Kharkiv region at the Merkuriy Gis farm. This farm, like many others, was targeted by Russian weapons. It was located close to the combat zone, so some buildings are beyond repair and grain stocks were destroyed.On a national scale, this is not much, but for the people, this is 12 months of hard work.

Gennadiy Goncharov, the head of the farm, speaks about that events. At that time, 740 acres of winter wheat remained in the fields and it was all burned out.

Then it was overgrown with weeds, and instead of a crop, we got the pieces of rockets, tanks, ammunition and landmines. The fields were heavily contaminated. Gennadiy says that the fields looked like the surface of the moon all covered in craters and pits. When the Russians were forced out of Kharkiv region, they had to start working immediately, but the fields were mined.

The company had to start demining on its own. I searched for any information about demining, looking for any ideas. We bought a drone with a thermal camera. We used it to look for the mines as they often stand out from the general picture of the field surface. When we found them, we reported them to the sappers, and they removed them.

However, there are not enough sappers for all the territory, so we developed our own deminer. One of the heavy tractors was slightly re-equipped and a remote control was installed. We welded a 10-ton roller and drove through the fields and roads. Mine clearance is a complex and dangerous task, so it took us three months. Not all fields can be worked on now, but the farm keeps on working.

Gennadiy says that as soon as the remaining occupied territories are liberated, they will take their machine there and help with demining. After all, farmers are the most patriotic and hardworking people — they need to work despite the mines.

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.