“We had to clean everything first”: How the farmer dealt with the war

“We had to clean everything first”
How the peasant reconciled with the war

In March, Russian troops opened fire on a 4,000-hectare farm in southern Ukraine. Three months later, the occupiers withdrew, but farmer Nadia Iwanowa cannot think of normalcy. Despite the ridiculous prices, there are no buyers for their grain.

Harvest time is really approaching, but so far Russian bullets are the only thing Ukrainian farmer Nadia Ivanova has been able to find in her fields in southern Ukraine. “We planted late because we had to remove everything first,” says the 42-year-old about the consequences of Russian shelling and the ammunition left behind.

As Russian troops pushed north in March, they opened fire on a 4,000-hectare Ivanov farm near Mykolaiv. True, the only victims of the fighting were two peacocks who lived in the yard. But the war left long-term damage: infrastructure was destroyed, local markets collapsed.

In peacetime, the company produced more than 12,000 tons of agricultural products per year for the domestic market, but also for export to Europe, Africa and China. Destroyed railways, mined waterways and rocket fire at the port of Mykolaiv now mean that Ivanov and its 76 employees can no longer sell their grain. 2,000 tons of grain are stored in the silos on her farm – there are no buyers, although the price per tonne of grain has dropped to about 100 euros. Before the war, valuable food more than tripled.

No technician in sight

On-farm problems are also exacerbated: a grain cleaning machine is broken, but support from insurance companies or banks is unlikely. War is raging 20 kilometers away. Given the constant threat of shelling, almost no technician dares to work in the area.

But that’s not all: fertilizer and pesticide prices have exploded, and motor oil costs three times as much as before the war – if at all. To make matters worse, there is a risk of drought this year.

“I have a family I have to support”

But Ivanovo wants to continue at all costs. If the harvest is not brought, there is a risk of fires in a severe drought – the danger is particularly great due to the fighting. The farmer therefore adapted as much as possible to the new situation. “We have replaced mustard, which is harvested earlier, sunflower and millet, which come later,” says Ivanová.

Her colleague Oleksandr Chomenko also appeared at work. He sits on a red tractor and prepares the field for sowing. “Whether we are afraid or not, we have to come to work,” he says. “I have a family to feed.” Like him, most employees continue to go to work and receive pay.

“I don’t know how long I will last,” says Ivanová. “But at least there will always be something to eat with me.”

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