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At-risk farms in eastern Ukraine receiving potato seed, livestock fodder

Pasturing livestock in the conflict areas of eastern Ukraine has become too risky. With unexploded ordnance in the fields, thievery, and even losses due to shooting, farmers these days are keeping their animals close to home. The decision not to pasture comes with a price, though:  the price of fodder for barn feeding.

Following its recent distribution of potato seed to vulnerable farm households in the conflict-affected Donetsk and Luhansk regions, FAO is now planning a distribution of livestock fodder to the most vulnerable households in the same regions. Fodder supplies are intended to meet the needs of households that still have cows, sheep, goats, poultry or pigs.

“For security reasons, many people cannot gather hay for their animals,” said FAO emergency response manager Farrukh Toirov. “The only way out for these households is to slaughter their livestock. But for the majority of them, their livestock is their means of survival – providing nutritious dairy products, eggs and meat for food, and also for earning money.”

The overall objective of FAO’s assistance in Donetsk and Luhansk is to safeguard the food security and livelihoods of the most at-risk farming families, and prevent economic losses due to the effects of the conflict.

The potato seed distribution covered 1,000 vulnerable and food-insecure households in the Artemovskiy, Konstantinovskiy and Sloviansky districts of Donetsk region, and the Belovodskiy, Kreminskiy, Novoaydarskiy, Novopskovskiy, and Papasnyanskiy districts of Luhansk. An estimated 3,500 people reside in the selected beneficiary households.

Two varieties of high-quality potato seeds were distributed – early and late-maturing – for a total of 100 metric tonnes. The seeds were sourced by FAO from within Ukraine and distributed just at the start of the planting season. Planting by beneficiary families got under way immediately.

“I am very grateful for the on-time assistance, because I left home with nothing in my hands,” said Vladimir Bludov, who has been sheltered by relatives since leaving Luhansk last November.

“We were not even expecting help!” said Valentina Yunetina of Varvarovka village in the Kreminskiy district of Luhansk. “We have a big kitchen garden but it is still empty. These high-productivity seeds will let our family survive next winter.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food is working closely with the FAO team on information collection, project formulation and implementation.

“The team of the Ministry are helping with different aspects of the FAO projects, be it information sharing or cooperation in technical discussions with the FAO specialists,” Toirov said. “The State Inspection Committee provided enormous support with the quality control for the procured potato seeds.”

Next, FAO will work with the Ministry, local authorities, international and national partners to select beneficiary households for the livestock fodder distribution.

19 May 2015, Donetsk, Ukraine

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