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'We must feed our soldiers and our Ukrainian nation,' say farmers who are working despite war

Farmer Serhiy Vakhnyuk is working through the Ukraine war.
Farmer Serhiy Vakhnyuk is working through the Ukraine war. Copyright EBU
Copyright EBU
By Rosie Frost
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Shortages of vital supplies and blocked exports are forcing farmers to make tough decisions in Ukraine.

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War in Ukraine is crippling food production, but farmers are battling to try and keep the country fed.

The problems are piling up. Seed deliveries are late; there is a shortage of fuel, fertiliser and other items needed to grow the crops. The food they have managed to produce is stuck in warehouses and ports due to shipping disruptions.

“We have almost 500 tonnes of corn,” says farmer Serhiy Vakhnyuk who lives and works just west of Kyiv.

Ukraine is known as one of the “breadbaskets of the world”.

“The seaports that allow us to export are closed. No transaction takes place. We don’t sell our grain. But we still have to buy products to continue to work.

“The financial imbalance is critical.”

Ukraine has 40 million hectares of agricultural land and is known as one of the “breadbaskets of the world”. Together with Russia, the country accounts for around a third of the world’s total wheat and barley exports. Other grains and sunflower oil are some of Ukraine’s major exports too.

With the Russian invasion still taking over the country, it is practically impossible to export these items - leading to fears of a food crisis around the world as well as in Ukraine.

Farmers battle to keep the country fed

EBU
Newborn calf at Serhiy Vakhnyuk's farm.EBU

There’s also been a lack of people to work on the land, compounding the problems caused by the conflict. It has been hard to keep staff on farms when they are being called away to fight.

The farmers had to turn to the Ministry of Agriculture for a solution to make sure the crops are planted this year.

The military have their battles, farmers also have theirs.

“From now on, people who work in the agricultural sector, such as veterinarians or people who are involved in the next plantings, the army will not mobilise them. These people are exempt for 6 months,” Vakhnyuk explains.

His farm is located just 100km from the front lines of the fighting, but giving up isn’t an option for Vakhnyuk.

“Life goes on. Calves are born, milk is drawn,” he says.

“The military have their battles, farmers also have theirs. We must feed our soldiers and our Ukrainian nation.”

Watch the video above to see how farmer Serhiy Vakhnyuk is working through the Ukraine war.

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