Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe and has a favorable geographic position. Ukraine borders Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia and is located in the western part of the Eastern European plain, between the Carpathians in the west and Crimea Mountains in the south. Ukraine gained independence in 1991 after 52 years of occupation by the Soviet Union, beginning in 1939.
The region is known for its fertile land for farming and agricultural land accounts for nearly 70 percent of the total land area. One challenge that does exist in the country is the issue of degrading villages. Out of the 28,504 villages in Ukraine, almost 8,000 villages belong to the category of ‘degrading villages’, where the population decline is impossible to stop without state intervention. However, with a rich agricultural land, a highly trained labor force and good education system, it is predicted that Ukraine has the potential to become a major European economy.
Heifer's Work in Ukraine
Heifer Ukraine began its work in 1994 with the first pilot project “Small Farm Development in Drohobych District”. The first delivery of Simmental heifers to farmer families in Drohobych Region took place within the next year. By 2000, it was clear that in order to better fulfill its mission Heifer International had to become accessible to people from all parts of Ukraine.
In 2000 Heifer International Ukraine was registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, with its office located in Lviv. In 2003, to achieve maximum results and expand the program, the head office was transferred from Lviv to Kyiv, which has a more central location and is easily accessible from all parts of the country.
Since 2004, in accordance with its strategic plan, Heifer Ukraine started five new projects in Kyivska Oblast where agricultural service cooperatives were the implementing organizations. Activities were also expanded to eastern, northern and southern Ukraine. This was one of the most important steps in the development of the Heifer Ukraine program, which shifted its focus from supporting non-governmental organizations to helping agricultural service cooperatives reach sustainability.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: Cooperating with government institutions, NGOs, international donor organizations dedicated to communities and agricultural sustainable development
Post-harvest management and processing: Training and technical assistance for improving farm management and technology
Market development: Building capacity and insuring long-term progressive change in participating communities, community groups, non-governmental organizations and community members in response to changing market conditions, emerging challenges and needs; Providing access to markets for smallholder farmer; Creating new or changing existing value chains to become pro-poor
Technology: Advancing milk production technologies
Nutrition: Encouraging nutrition through food sovereignty and milk production
See where Heifer is working around the world to end hunger.
Women leaders from all corners of Ukraine participated in study tours between October 2012 and February 2013. Funded by Heifer Ukraine and the Women's Information Consultative Center, the trainings aimed to solve problems such as high unemployment, domestic violence and lack of medical care.
The global financial and economic crisis has also demonstrated the resilience of alternative financial institutions such as cooperative.
“I am the founding father of the co-op movement In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast,” Sakarchuk told me humbly.