The Ukraine Report: Farmer is furthering his organic growth even in the middle of war

Despite being in the middle of a war, farmers in Ukraine are still trying to be the best stewards of the land as much as possible. We meet one farmer who is moving toward organic production and reducing his environmental impact.

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In times of war, the primary concern of a nation is to survive, and for its economy, to withstand. And the experience of some Ukrainian farmers is particularly impressive. Like Oleksiy Yazykov, who is not just trying to keep his business alive but also manages to find the motivation and resources to conduct agronomic experiments. His agricultural enterprise is moving towards organic production and minimizing environmental impact.

“We already have a positive experience in double-cropping. These were soy and sunflower. We received an additional harvest of 20-30% of each crop. What is the idea of intercropping? It consists of growing soybeans protected by sunflowers which neutralizes the effects of wind and temperature changes. In turn, the sunflower gets enough sunlight as soybean crops are not high. Now I’m planning to use miscanthus as a windbreak for growing crops such as soya and corn. Roughly in the third year, miscanthus will be 2.5 meters high. This should effectively protect the shorter plants of all my commercial crops.

“Now we can see the tractor preparing the rows for planting miscanthus. They are 9.1 meters wide like the header, and miscanthus is planted at a width of 2.8 metres, which corresponds to the size of Jaguar’s header. We will harvest miscanthus for another purpose – to use it as biofuel.”

More importantly, the farmer encourages local residents to learn how to grow energy crops, relatively new and exotic plants in Ukrainian fields today.

“We plant 1 hectare of miscanthus per day. This process involves 4 people who distribute the rhizomes, 8 people who cut the rhizomes, and 2 more workers who dig them up. At the moment, manual labor is of the highest quality and is still more or less cheap. This is a big benefit for our village, because we give local residents an opportunity to earn money and, in turn, get high-quality miscanthus seedlings.

“When I first came to this farm, no one in the neighborhood grew soybeans. Today, all the surrounding gardens are sown with this crop. After all, it is now profitable. Now the story is repeating itself with miscanthus. And I hope that in 10 years our gardens will be covered with miscanthus. You can cut it like this. You see, here is the place where the rhizome will grow and here it can still grow.”

For the locals, this is an opportunity to earn some money. So far, they do not fully understand how they can make a substantial and regular income from it. However, over time, when we come to buy the miscanthus grown in their gardens, they will definitely treat the production of this crop with affection and enthusiasm.

Is there a program or at least a government initiative to refund the cost of rhizthe ome as a planting material?

“Honestly, I haven’t heard of this yet. But we are working on it. We are searching for grants, and programs designed to cheapen the process. I hope that we will find something, after all, this plant and technology help to keep our planet alive. Miscanthus absorbs carbon 5 times better than a pine forest.

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.