The Ukraine Report: It’s a matter of surviving and winning for farmers

It has been a little over a year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We meet one farmer from the central part of the country and learn how his operation is coping.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

How the war has affected your farm is the most common question asked of Ukrainian farmers today. Nobody says it hasn’t. Everyone suffers from it deeply.

Central Ukraine. The village of Vilne. The farm Shans. About 200 km away from the war zone.

How has the war impacted us? 60% of our team joined the defense from the very first days. It became difficult to work. This year, a person who had never driven a harvester before worked on it.

Each employee now does the work of several people. The workload has not eased, but it is much more difficult to do.

Logistics is one of the biggest challenges. First, the shutdown of the ports and later the very limited access made it incredibly tough to sell products.

In the first months of the war, we could not sell more than half of the previous season’s volumes. In 2021, we had a record harvest across the country. Last year, the harvest was lower: weather conditions were rough, fertilizers were not applied because there was nowhere to buy them, and not all fields were cultivated as the dynamics of the hostilities were unclear.

Problems with product sales have not been resolved, with cars queuing up at the port for weeks. And storage capacity is tight, which is why the company has started using polymer sleeves.

“In the first five months of the war, products were not marketed at all. To be able to buy sleeves and the required machinery, we got a loan. Fortunately, the government was able to help agribusiness survive this crisis. We bought 6 sleeves and stored the 2021 corn in them. Later, we learned about the USAID program and were able to get more sleeves and store the 2022 harvest, corn, and wheat.”

It is now a matter of surviving and winning, the development will follow, the director says. But the immediate plans are to build storage warehouses since everyone now knows that there may be a situation when products will have to be stored for a long time. After all, corn was stored in the first sleeves for 18 months.

“Fortunately, all our employees fighting in the war are alive and sound. We hope that the war will end as soon as possible, everyone will return home and we will keep on growing bread together.”

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.