Ukraine's farmers remain uncowed as they face challenging harvest

With the combines set to roll in about a month’s time and around a quarter of last year’s crop still in store, Ukrainian farmers face a challenging harvest – to say nothing of the uncertainties of planting next year’s crops.

But despite the continued hostilities and threat of land mines a meeting of NFU Scotland’s Borders and Lothians region heard that farmers in the area remained both determined and uncowed by the Russian invasion.

Dr Keith Dawson, a founder and director of the Central Plains Group which farms in West Ukraine, and who was giving a talk on the situation with personal insights and local knowledge, told the meeting that despite the huge problems he was optimistic that normality would eventually return to the area, although he accepted that this was likely to take some time.

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Asked why he was farming in West Ukraine, he answered: “It has wonderful soils, plenty of rain and it is flat. What’s not to like?” – adding that the company’s involvement in the area and the prosperity which farming had brought had also benefited local communities over the years.

Dr Keith Dawson has been involved in farming in Eastern Europe since 1984.

He was speaking during a visit to Mertoun Estate Farms near St Boswells where farm manager, Jack Parsons, oversees nearly 1,500 hectares of arable crops, vining peas, and potatoes for the seed market.

Investment in storage facilities in the estate meant that not only could the estate store its own harvest following the collapse of the Inglis grain merchant business, but that it could also provide additional storage for neighbouring units.

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