1. Agriculture World

Spring Planting is under Threat, Posing Challenges for Ukrainian Farmers

Many farmers in Ukraine's war-torn regions are debating what to do about spring planting as a result of the conflict with Russia and the resulting human death and misery. Throughout it all, farmers in the nation are still looking for ways to raise food, feed their families, and make a living.

Shivam Dwivedi
Picture of a Ukrainian Wheat Field
Picture of a Ukrainian Wheat Field

Ukraine is known as Europe's breadbasket because of its fertile soils and vast harvests of grains, plant oils, and other foodstuffs, the majority of which are exported to countries all over the world. Farmers are now confronted with scary problems, ranging from mined roads and explosive ordnance to frozen bodies in fields to diesel and plant treatment shortages, all of which are jeopardizing this year's spring sowing.

Many farmers in Ukraine's war-torn regions are debating what to do about spring planting as a result of the conflict with Russia and the resulting human death and misery. Throughout it all, farmers in the nation are still looking for ways to raise food, feed their families, and make a living.

They are confronted with grave challenges. Alex Lissitsa is the owner of a massive private farm in northern and central Ukraine that is almost as big as Co Leitrim. Farmworkers are unable to get to the fields due to the fighting, which is creating havoc on the enterprise.

"The Russians are nasty, and they plant explosives in the fields and on the roads leading to the farms because they are afraid of Ukrainian partisans," says one source. Mines recently murdered one family in my home region (in the north of the country near the Belarussian border).

"My main priority is the safety of my employees, and I will not send them to the fields until all of these have been cleaned. Mines and explosive ordnance pose a serious threat to tillage and planting machinery, and in Russian-controlled border areas, there is an even more heinous cause to delay planting.

Farmers are also hesitant to produce because they are afraid of inviting air assaults on themselves or surrounding settlements. Kees Huzinga, a Dutch farmer, had lived in Ukraine for 20 years before fleeing to Holland when the conflict broke out.

He's eager to get back to his 1,500-acre farm as soon as possible. He emphasized his apprehension about utilizing tractors in areas where Russians are attacking. "We work day and night during the planting season, but at night, all of the lights in the villages and towns are turned off, making them invisible from above.

"They may target you if you drive around in a large tractor that resembles a Christmas tree. "It also creates a lot of noise and light if it's close to a settlement, and people get afraid." Ukraine also has a dairy industry, with a herd of around 1.6 million cows, similar to Ireland's.

Everyone's primary concern is human misery, yet the future of cows on one dairy plant run by Lissitsa is dismal. "The situation in the north of Ukraine is dire. We have no idea what is going on in the villages, which lack electricity, internet access, and food and water supplies.

"We have a dairy farm with 1,000 cows, and it appears that they will all perish soon due to a lack of fodder, two days without electricity, and the ancient generator we used for milking no longer works.

"The Russian military just goes through the villages with savagery, shooting down everyone who walks down the street, thus it appears that this modern Ukrainian dairy farm will soon be a thing of the past since the cows will not live."

Both men agree that if the country is to survive the war, trade access through ports on the Black Sea is critical.

Lissitsa claims that the government only has 20% of the fuel that farmers want at the moment, but that its maize and plant oil stockpiles are nearly full, and that unless they are emptied by exporting the goods, there will be no space to keep this year's harvest.

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