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 from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The region is known for its fertile farmland. Agricultural land accounts for nearly 70 percent of the total land area of Ukraine. 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 are degrading meaning that the population decline is impossible to stop without state intervention. However, with a rich agricultural land, a highly trained labor force and a good education system, the U.S. State Department predicts that Ukraine has the potential to become
a major European economy.
Heifer's Work in Ukraine
Heifer in Ukraine began its work in 1994 with the first pilot project. The first delivery of Simmental heifers to farmer families in Drohobych region took place the next year. In 2000, Heifer International Ukraine was registered with the Ministry of Justice, with an office in Lviv. In 2003, to achieve maximum results and expand the program, the head office was transferred from Lviv to Kiev, which has a more central location and is easily accessible from all parts of the country.
Since 2004, Heifer Ukraine has implemented projects through agricultural service activities and cooperatives, gradually expanding to eastern, northern and southern Ukraine. Since 1994, Heifer Ukraine has launched 71 projects in 21 administrative regions, of which 47 were completed as of FY13. The most influential include four public-private partnership projects: Ukraine Milk Communities Project; Cooperative Learning Farm and Services Project; Strawberry Communities Project; and Development of Dairy Sector in Bukovyna Region funded by Danone Ecosystem Fund, Danone Ukraine, CIDA, Oblast/ Raion State Administrations and other partners. Over 15,500 rural families, most united in agricultural service cooperatives, received help in the form of productive agricultural animals, elite plant seeds, agricultural equipment, technical and advisory support.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: Cooperating with government institutions, ngOs, international donor organizations, private companies dedicated to communities and agricultural sustainable development; uniting and empowering smallholder farmers, encouraging women and youth taking part in a larger process of transformation thus acting as agents of sustainable change within their communities
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; providing access to markets for smallholder farmers; creating new or changing existing value chains to become pro-poor; providing training and diverse assets to smallholder communities and helping them reach maximum potential as value chain actors (through access to markets, increased productivity, compliance with food quality and safety regulations, trademarks etc.)
Technology & Financing: Promotion of new and innovative methods for effective farming by providing necessary inputs; providing microcredits through licensed credit institutions primarily for scaling up smallholders to family farms; production and marketing of organic products; manure management, composting; developing entrepreneurship in villages, including development of green tourism; artificial insemination and veterinary support
Nutrition: Animal health and husbandry, provide social institutions, smallholder farmers and other consumers the means and/or the access to get high quality nutritious produce
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.