UNDP pilot project supports chicken farmers in south Ukraine’s Odesa Oblast

As the war in Ukraine continues to ruin lives of the people and deal destructive blows to the wellbeing of their communities UNDP is piloting small-scale support activities to help withstand food scarcity.

Posted July 29, 2022
Photo: Serhiy Chernokulsky

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, almost 5 million Ukrainians have lost their jobs, and overall economic losses, according to the National Bank of Ukraine, may equal one third of the country’s GDP.

Communities that depend on the agriculture sector have suffered the hardest blows. Many of the residents of such communities have been conscripted into the army or joined the territorial defense forces, which resulted in labour shortages.

In some regions the difficult security situation is further aggravated by a lack of basic necessities to maintain household farms – livestock feed, fuels, and fertilizers. That is why effective support for such communities during these challenging times has become a priority task for the UNDP team in Ukraine.

“There are approximately 6,000 people living in our community,” says Ivan Ivanovych, the deputy Head of the Mrazliivska community in Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky District, Odesa Oblast.

“Since the beginning of the invasion many young people have been conscripted. Mostly the elderly stayed. The people live off agriculture.”

In 2016, the Mrazliivska community was acknowledged as one of the best in the country in terms of the level of participation of its people in the process of forming a community. Simple and hardworking people live here, and they treat their land with great love.

“Now it’s relatively quiet here,” says Ivan. “We live several kilometres from the sea. Our community is agrarian. We grow grain crops. Almost all of our community is private housing, mainly one-story. In the village, you understand, everyone keeps some kind of livestock. Not many people keep cattle, but almost every house keeps poultry.”

“People live off it, grow it for themselves, for their own consumption – their livestock produces milk, cheese, and cottage cheese. It is challenging work and, if there is an opportunity, they can sell a little, and those who keep chickens, pigs, goats, usually for their own needs.”

New challenges and new solutions for community

Small streets with one-story buildings, the friendly faces of local residents – there is almost no indication of the hardships people living in these villages face every day. Most residents are elderly, and to these people working on the land, tending livestock, and maintaining households is extremely difficult. However, despite their own hardships, they still have the heart to open their doors to those who need help and were forced to flee from their own houses to save their families.

“We had many displaced persons,” Ivan says. “From Mykolaiv and Kherson oblasts. Many people came to us and then moved on. We try to support them the best we can. Since the first days of the invasion, we started organizing food logistical centres in case there is a blockade. We gave part of our food supplies to people who needed help.”

“Not everyone grows broilers (chickens), but lately more and more people are tending to choose to raise this kind of poultry. It works out great, as you can grow one bird to three kilos or even more in just a few months – if you have good quality feed, of course. That is why when people heard about this initiative and told others that there was an opportunity to obtain poultry feed, a lot of people signed up for it."

Under a UNDP pilot initiative, the residents of villages of two communities – Shabo and Mrazliiv, in Odesa Oblast – were supplied with 15 tonnes of Starter and Grower poultry feeds.

Using these feeds, over 270 households will be able to raise 5,600 chickens, which will increase egg and poultry meat production for the needs of the local population and the internally displaced persons in these communities.

“This support is particularly important and necessary for the residents of the communities in their current circumstances,” says Serhiy Chernokulsky, a representative of Shabo village council.

“We had several incoming air attacks,” says Chernokulsky, who is the secretary of the Shabo community. “Our community’s population is approximately 16,000, we have both young people and the elderly. Usually, people would go to work at the nearby resorts and various enterprises. However, after the invasion, the situation changed drastically: There is less work and the danger of shelling is looming. Therefore, mostly people started to do their own farming. Many of us are engaged in raising livestock – more than 70% of the population keep poultry. So, people were very happy to receive such help and attention (from UNDP).”

First results

Those who received the poultry feed sets confirmed that with them they will be able to raise 10 or more chickens.

“It’s substantial help at this time,” Chernokulsky adds. “Many of our people need help, there are many displaced persons living in our community. Any help is important. It’s summer now, there is still an opportunity to feed families and prepare something for the winter. That’s why it’s essential to use any opportunity to support the people.”

“We moved here on 20 April, when there was shelling in our city," says Oleksandr from Mykolaiv, a city in south-central Ukraine not far from the front lines. “Thanks to the help of the people here, we’ve found a house that belongs to people who went abroad. We agreed with them that my family – my wife and two daughters – could live here for the time being.”

“I’m a teacher, and my wife as well. We’ve never worked on the land, but thanks to the help and support of people from our village, I’ve already learned how to grow tomatoes, and take care of chickens and geese. I’m grateful for the help we’re getting, because now we’ve got the opportunity to prepare for winter, which is going to be quite tough.”

The populations of the two communities that received the support from the UNDP project will still face a lot of challenges: There are shortages of fuel supplies for the heating season, infrastructure has to be prepared for the winter, food supplies must be stocked, and many other tasks fulfilled.

But even this small support from UNDP for these hardworking and open people in maintaining poultry production will make a tangible contribution to the region’s wellbeing.