The Ukraine Report: Largest tomato processor that was under fire is making a comeback

Ukraine’s largest tomato processor was temporarily occupied by Russia for almost a year, but they are making a comeback.

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

“On February 24 at 6 a.m., I had a call from our boss, he said, “It’s starting, go to the plant immediately.”

This is Mykhailo Chornoshchokov, director of Agrofusion’s Skhidnyi plant.

Agrofusion is Ukraine’s largest tomato processor with assets located in the south of the country.

We are at the plant in Snihurivka, which was temporarily occupied by the Russian federation for 9 months. Mykhailo described what it was like.

“In early March 2022, they set up checkpoints on all access roads to Snihurivka and shot at all vehicles so that no one could leave. I was driving to work at about 8 a.m. and got under fire too. The bullets went through the wheels and the engine, but luckily I survived and just walked to work. It was terrifying”

The company had no access to the plant for 8 months, as it was a Russian base. As a result of the fighting to liberate the city, the facility was 60 percent destroyed.

“The production shop and laboratory burned to the ground. The finished goods warehouse was badly damaged. About 35 thousand pounds of tomato paste were stored there. The paste burned. A lot of equipment was stolen”

The company has two more plants: one outside Mykolaiv was in the grey zone and regularly shelled. Another one is in the neighboring Kherson region, part of which is still occupied.

This is another company plant. It’s near Mykolaiv. The Russians did not get here. But they shelled the plant 16 times.

“They fired everything they had. Smerch, Uragan, artillery shells, cluster bombs. The Russian positions were one mile away”

The staff had to work literally under fire. Unfortunately, an employee of the greenhouse complex was killed during one of those attacks.

“One of the missiles hit the tomato paste production equipment. This is the core of the plant. We had to rebuild it under fire because the tomatoes were already planted and we had to get ready to process the harvest”

Despite everything that’s happened, Agrofusion is optimistic about the future.

- What will Agrofusion be like after the win and how will you celebrate?

- After the victory, Agrofusion will be great. We will process at least 2 million pounds of tomatoes. We will export to 70 countries.

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.