«Russians occupied our village, and our fields became the front line»
Ihor was forced to leave one of his farms in the Kharkiv region because Russian troops occupied this territory in the spring. He lost his harvests and farm equipment. The occupants settled in his house.
He has been growing grain crops and managing two farms for over 11 years. One of his farms is located in the Kharkiv region – precisely the one that is currently under constant artillery fire and partially suffers under the Russian occupation.
Ihor evacuated to the Khmelnytskyi region, where he is fighting for the fate of his second farm. Ihor estimates his farm’s damage to be at least $4 million, but the experts still are determining the exact cost of losses.
And this is his story.
It’s impossible to find out the fate of my people and my property
Not even drones can fly to the territory of my farm because there is radio-electronic warfare. I have not been able to contact my people for more than two months because they have been without electricity all this time. Of course, communal services do not work in the occupied territory.
In early July, I had my last conversation with my neighbor. He confirmed that the projectile hit the hangar with equipment. I can’t say anything more because the Russians don’t even let people out of their homes. Russians occupied our village, and our fields became the front line.
Five or six people remained in the village, including a family with two children. The Russian military does not allow them to leave in any direction. It seems that the forward positions of the Ukrainian army are four or five kilometers away, but it is impossible to reach them due to the danger of shelling. We really don’t know what horrors are happening there now.
The crop is already in the harvest stage, but the fields are mined
We have 1,720 hectares of land in the Kharkiv region, but only about 1,470 hectares are arable. Winter wheat had survived the cold quite well, so we had planned household work on nourishment and chemical protection. But the war and occupation changed our plans. Today, the fields are dug up with trenches and mutilated by craters.
NDVI maps via satellite show that wheat is ripe. It is already in the harvest stage, but the fields are mined. Those fields we did not sow because of the war are covered with weeds and decay.
It is difficult to estimate the scale of destruction and damage
Our accountant ran away from Vovchy Yar at the beginning of April. She had time to see with her own eyes the destruction, the seizure of the locals’ houses, and the agricultural machinery deliberately crushed by the Russians. Occupants also settled in my house. After her evacuation, we lost the opportunity to receive reliable information about the situation in the village.
Of course, we did not have time to take any measures to evacuate the property. Two days after the invasion, the Russians were already looting our enterprise. Occupants stole my quad bike and a diesel engine, smashed the windows of the tractors, rode one of them across the field to “draw” the letter “Z.” About two days later, we dared to go and make a video in the hangar. And this was the last opportunity to document the damage.
Ukraine is an active participant in the global grain market
My company has long been an exporter and a reliable supplier to Egypt, Spain, China, and other countries. Last year, we took thousands of tons of products to Mykolaiv for export and sold wheat and sunflower in Ukraine.
Due to the war and occupation, Ukraine is losing its position on the world agricultural market, and the volume of product exports is decreasing. This leads to an increase in prices. Today, the cost of wheat in Europe is approximately 400 euros per ton. And it was 300 not so long ago…
Ukrainian farmers harvest wheat under the threat of shelling to save a business
Our tractor driver Oleksandr said that his colleagues go out into the field under the threat of shelling and try to collect wheat. This is their last chance to save the business because the financial situation in the frontline territories is difficult.
Today, the profitability of agriculture is meager. Therefore, Ukrainian farmers work according to the strategy of one day. There is an opportunity to save – they save. There is no such possibility – they are selling. It is necessary to pay wages, taxes, and pay current loans. Our enterprise will not harvest this year – the territory is still occupied. The question remains open: will we be able to sow in the future?
Being a farmer is now extremely difficult in Ukraine. Mines blew up tractors in the eastern part of the country during spring fieldwork. In May, the Russians shot a self-propelled sprayer just for fun. Farmers suffer from their barbarism. Many farmers left to save their families. My colleagues are asking me to work on a second farm. This is how we support each other now.
But these are our lands and our harvest. Of course, we are ready to work hard not to give it to the Russians.