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Difficult Decisions for Farmers in Ukraine

Impact Stories, Ukraine

Almost two years after the start of the present upheaval in Ukraine, families continue to face incredibly hard decisions. While many have been displaced by the conflict and have few to no supplies, others who are living at home struggle to make ends meet. 

Shifting market prices have made it next to impossible to make a living through farming. For Svitlana and Kateryna, subsistence farmers, this is the case.

Svitlana and her husband Yaroslav* live with their four young adult children. “We are at the point where it is not possible to make a profit from farming. Our present goal is not even trying to break even but to farm with minimum loss and without having to give up our farm and its land.”

Svitlana’s family only has one tractor remaining, after they were forced to sell their other two—despite needing them for the upcoming harvest.

To afford life’s necessities as well as inputs for their farm plot, in the last few months this family sold two of their three tractors. Now, come harvest, they will have to rent at least one tractor. 

“There is a good chance,” Svitlana shares, “that financially we shall soon be heavily in minus territory. Prices for seed, fertilizer and diesel fuel are too high, whereas selling price for crops has diminished greatly.”

The economy is not this family’s only problem, given the forced conscription happening in the country. “Since the men [who are still around] can be taken off for military duty at any given time, they do not appear anywhere in public, keeping a very low profile at home behind locked doors.” The wife must do almost all of the tasks outside of the home, including the farm work and any errands in public. 

As Christians, we are called to respond to those in need. With generous support from Presbyterians across Canada, PWS&D has raised over $1 million for essential humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and surrounding countries. This has been done in partnership with ACT Alliance, Canadian Foodgrains Bank and the Ars Longa Foundation—which is committed to helping farmers like Svitlana. 

Ars Longa Foundation’s response provides cash towards the purchase of fertilizer. The project, valued at $120,000, distributed cash to subsistence farmers so they could purchase this essential farm input. 

Kateryna and her husband Maksym*, who care for two older generations in their home, are among the farmers who received this assistance. They share “if we had not received PWS&D fertilizer, we would have planted less.”

Kateryna also does all of the tasks outside of her family’s home, driving the tractor in the fields, going to the markets to sell her family’s harvest of apples, and transporting farm staff as needed. She shares the concerns of Svitlana: “the wife has to carry all the worries on her shoulders.”  

It is unfair that families in Ukraine must choose between food today, and being able to farm tomorrow. Please continue to support PWS&D’s work in Ukraine so fewer and fewer families have to make this difficult choice.

*names changed

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