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FAO bolsters agricultural cooperatives in eastern Ukraine

Farmers in the conflict-affected Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine are learning about the legal and financial aspects of operating in cooperatives. In a series of training sessions during May and June, they will also acquire knowledge about efficient new technologies, business opportunities, and more.

A new FAO project, financed by the Government of Canada, is encouraging and training farmers in communities along the conflict line to work and do business as cooperatives. Some 18 training sessions are planned in Donetsk, 15 in Luhansk. In addition, two study tours will be organized to Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

FAO experts conducted a rigorous evaluation of existing cooperatives and groups that had expressed interest in participating in the initiative. Applications were received from 49 groups in the two regions, representing the interests of more than 886 people.

About one-fourth of all applications came from state-registered agricultural service cooperatives, 12 percent from non-governmental organizations. The majority (63 percent) were initiative groups of farmers without legal registration. This revealed a need for training on the fundamentals of agricultural cooperatives: creation, state registration, and practical organization of activities.

Most cooperatives participating in the project are involved in either collection, cooling and processing of milk, mechanized crop-planting services, or animal fodder preparation and processing of livestock products. For this reason, the FAO project will focus mainly on cooperatives working in crop or livestock production – both popular with small-scale producers in eastern Ukraine.

“Revitalizing the cooperative movement in eastern Ukraine has an essential importance,” said Farrukh Toirov, FAO emergency programme coordinator in Ukraine, “because it will enable members to preserve their economic independence while gaining all the advantages of a large business. This includes use of modern technologies, minimizing expenses, access to external financing, and advisory services from highly qualified professionals.”

The FAO project will also offer financial assistance toward the purchase of agricultural equipment, Toirov said, enabling cooperative members to use more efficient methods of farm management.

The cooperative support project is part of FAO’s overall emergency programme aimed at enhancing the food security of people living in eastern regions of Ukraine. It is financed by the Government of Canada and the overall funding US$ 2.3 million.

11 May, 2017, Kiev, Ukraine

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