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First person: Vulnerable Ukrainian farmers plow self-sufficient

WorldEuropeFirst person: Vulnerable Ukrainian farmers plow self-sufficient
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Pierre Vauthier is the head of the office for FAO in Ukraine. He told UN News how FAO The in-country team – around 100 staff members, mostly Ukrainian experts in agriculture-related fields – was spread across the country, often working in difficult conditions.

“One of the difficulties we faced after the start of the war was that many of our own colleagues were forced to leave their homes and move to safer areas. Despite this challenge, we were able to respond quickly to the needs of those affected. managed to complete.

From April, we started distributing seeds mainly to people who were forced to leave their homes, and took refuge in villages where they felt more secure, and had more chances to find housing. There was a possibility.

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People in the frontline or occupied areas faced extreme hardships.

Pierre Vauthier, head of the FAO Country Office in Ukraine, on the occasion of the distribution of agricultural equipment in Chernihivska in November 2022.

Agricultural businesses, especially the larger ones, were severely affected at all levels, but turned out to be extremely resilient, and demonstrated an ability to reorganize and resume operations.

On the other hand, small farmers, small businessmen and rural households were very vulnerable; They produce food for the rest of the country and require humanitarian assistance.

More than 30,000 families have received seeds and cash transfers from FAO, and this has helped strengthen local economies and build resilience.

FAO aims to remove half a million households, or one million people, in rural areas with humanitarian assistance by the end of 2023 and enable them to become self-sufficient and thus contribute to the revival of the rural economy.

avoiding collapse of agricultural production

In 2022, Ukrainian ports, which exported more than 80–90% of the country’s grain to countries in Africa and Asia, were blocked.

To prevent a total collapse of agricultural production, FAO, in coordination with the government and partners, was able to purchase and provide nearly 6 million tonnes of grain storage capacity. This meant that farmers, many of whom had lost infrastructure due to the war, could store their produce and avoid losses.

This ultimately saved the 2022 crop and stabilized the global situation.

UN agencies have helped secure electricity generators so food production can continue in Ukraine.

UN agencies have helped secure electricity generators so food production can continue in Ukraine.

2023 Priorities

A drop in agricultural production of between 30% and 40% due to war would have a significant impact on the national economy and food security, so it is vital that agriculture is supported.

FAO established a special program to support farmers in border areas by providing them with seeds so that they can maintain their production.

We have also distributed generators, with support from Germany, to power food producers and other elements of the food chain to continue. So, for example, we have given generators to large bakeries in Kiev and Kherson so that they can bake bread.

FAO is also working on reducing fossil fuel consumption in the agriculture sector and exploring alternatives such as solar power and biofuels.

And importantly, FAO is working with the World Food Program (wfp) Identifying and prioritizing land that needs to be mined and rehabilitated to ensure the safety of farmers and allow agricultural production to take place as quickly as possible in a safe and efficient manner.

There is an estimate of one million hectares of land affected by mines and unexploded ordnance in the fields.

The farm buildings and land have been rendered unusable due to the war in Ukraine.

© UNOCHA/Kateryna Klochko

unity among farmers

I am impressed by the solidarity of farmers in Ukraine who, despite being affected by circumstances beyond their control, are driven to restart their production, resume their normal lives, and provide agricultural products for their communities Are.

In this sense their concerns about harvesting, their livestock, maintaining production and selling to markets are very similar to the concerns of other farmers I meet around the world in places like Mali, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. But I have met

Work continues despite challenges

The ongoing war is complicating humanitarian operations, especially in areas where military activity is intense.

Almost every day we have to take shelter in our bunkers for protection, but we continue to work.

Security remains a major concern, especially for our employees, who often live on the outskirts of the cities where we live. But we are careful not to put ourselves at unnecessary risk.

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