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Dairy farms in Ukraine's Donbass region struggle to survive

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Justin Spike

DMYTRIVKA, Ukraine (AP) — One of the last working dairy farms in Ukrainian-controlled areas of the East Donbass are doing Workers and animals alike float unsafe from Russia's devastating war. Of the cattle, only about 200 remain. Management says he produces two tons of milk a day, compared to 11 tons before the war.

KramAgroSvit A large portion of the farm's income once came from growing wheat, but continuing to do so is risky. When a farm worker harvested wheat with a grain combine on Sunday, the machine hit two mines on him, causing a fire that consumed more than 60% of the worker's body.

The worker survived but is in critical condition due to the doctor's susceptibility to infections.

An inspection by an emergency services team found 19 additional landmines in the field, said Ihor Kriuchenko, the farm's senior livestock technician, who now said that going out to harvest was "a bombardment." And mines are very dangerous,” he added. Farmhands drives combine to avoid visible artillery debris.

These realities of war created a series of complex problems that combined to dramatically worsen farm operations. In the nearby city of Kramatorsk, the interim capital of the Donetsk region, Russian attacks and gas shortages for heating and cooking have forced most residents to evacuate, reducing demand for dairy products and resulting in lower profits.

Business also hit as Russian troops captured several other cities where farms used to distribute milk, and those markets disappeared behind the front lines. I received

Given this situation – demand and supply chain disruptions, shelling and mine hazards – the agricultural potential in eastern Ukraine threatens the future of the KramAgroSvit farm, which has been in operation since 2003. Full of risks.

``This farm was attacked (from rockets), killing 38 cattle and destroying some of the farm equipment and vehicles. It was decided that it was too risky to keep cattle, so they were sold abroad," Kryuchenko said.

The owner of the farm slaughtered all the pigs and rabbits that were once raised there and sold them in uncertainty, he said.

At the end of June, Ukrainian dairy farms lost at least 50,000 cows worth an estimated $136 million in the first three years, said Anna Lavlenyuk, general director of the Ukrainian Association of Milk Producers, at the end of June. Told. war month.

About 800 industrial dairy farms lost their assets such as animals, barns, agricultural machinery and fodder, and milk production in the front and Russian-occupied territories fell by more than half since the war began, he said. He said Lavrenyuk.

Ukrainian milk production is likely to fall to 2 million tonnes per year, and from 2021 she will drop by 750,000 tonnes, she said.

According to Kriuchenko, only about a third of the 63 former employees of the KramAgroSvit farm remain. neighboring province of Luhansk.

One such worker, Natalia Onatsuka, lined up about 50 cows on Wednesday in one of the farm's long, musty milking hangars. I attached a vacuum pump to my breast.

She has spent her entire life on the farm and calls her own work her "point of my life."

"I wish everything was the way it was before and everyone kept working," Onatsuka said. "It's scary to live now. I'm just living day to day."

Farms are now feeding wheat to cows as grain prices fall and logistics costs skyrocket. she said Kriuchenko. The crop is not profitable in the market because the Russian navy has blocked Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

But among the myriad challenges facing the farm, he said the hardest part was saying goodbye to his colleagues who invested so much in its success. rice field. Amid the layoffs, he said he had to fire his wife.

"It was very painful and sad to let go of all the staff. Our team was put together from the ground up, there was great teamwork, everything was great," he said. "It was a shock to say goodbye to them."

Another worker at the dairy farm, Kharina Borysenko, said she had survived the war when she had finished milking her cows for the day. I said I felt sorry for what I had to do.

"Animals behave differently. They are as scared as we are," she said. "They can't say it out loud." In


, the war in Ukraine Follow her AP coverage on.