Since the start of the war in Ukraine, much has been said of the dramatic human and social consequences for the Ukrainian population. With Ukraine being one of the cereal baskets of the world, the war also has major impacts on Ukrainian farmers and rural communities and the geopolitics of European and global food markets. We have asked Mykhailo Amosov, from the Ukrainian environmental NGO Ecoaction, with whom we have regularly exchanged over the past years about the hasty liberation of the Ukrainian land markets, to share his analysis with us.
Ukrainian farmers in state of war
by Amosov Mykhailo, NGO Ecoaction, Ukraine
Two months ago, the lives of every Ukrainian and every farmer in Ukraine changed as Russia invaded our country. Farmers in Ukraine were doing preparatory work for spring sowing and couldn’t begin to even imagine this would be under such circumstances.
At least two thousand farmers in Kherson oblast are doing this under the barrel of a pistol by Russian occupiers.
Farmers in Kherson received a message from Russia: Sow sunflower, corn and winter crops. We have no need for soy beans or anything else.
It is quite possible that farmers in Zaporizhzhia, Lugansk and Kharkiv oblasts received the same caution too.
Does it mean farmers have lost their right to work freely on their own land ? I think yes, absolutely.
I am sure a lot of them waited a long time (30,40,50 years!) to feel free to work the land as they wish since as part of the Soviet Union this right was deprived to them. Since 1991, Ukrainian farmers were and still are trying to live, work and prosper on their own land.Russian occupiers are destroying everything farmers have secured and pushing them to do what Russia wants.
In other parts of Ukraine, farmers had and have a quite different obstacle to overcome. . After the liberation of (?) northern and eastern regions of Ukraine, a lot of territories were left mined, burned, and polluted by the Russian army. So farmers have adopted new security measures in their workplace, wearing bulletproof vests.
It is a huge challenge to clean thousands of hectares. Do farmers have the skills and expertise to de-mine the land? I don’t think so. A preliminary estimation is that de-mining of all de-occupied territories will take at least 5 years.
So it could be said that Ukrainian farmers are losing their land all over again .
Ukrainian farmers are the part of resistance on Russian occupied territories. As they were in 1648, 1768 and 1917 where the Ukrainian peasants and farmers played a key role in securing the independence of Ukraine. In 2022, resistance has became a reality once again.
Even if it is not an occupied area,peasants and farmers,mainly men, are being mobilized by the government to serve in the army.. Family farms and farmer enterprises are losing many important hands.
You and your community can help Ukrainians. Ask your government to boycott Russian goods including fossil fuels and natural resources together with, wheat and other agricultural products which are fueling the war in Ukraine.
As soon as we stop business as usual with Russians, Ukrainians can start to live in peace again and millions of people around the globe can get much needed food.