German farmers in Ukraine press forward in defiance of warfare

DEHRZIV, Ukraine: Yearly in early spring, German farmers Torben Reelfs and Tim Nandelstaedt flip the soil and plant the primary sugar beets of the season on their plot of land in western Ukraine. However this yr, the ritual has taken on a brand new that means. It’s very symbolic. When the machine turns over the land, it’s a special feeling than in earlier years, mentioned Reelfs, 41, chatting with AFP by telephone from the farm about 60 km from Lviv.

When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, Reelfs and Nandelstaedt instantly fled to Germany to get away from the missiles, to be on the territory of the EU, of NATO, in accordance with Nandelstaedt, 43. At first I assumed that Russia would get to the Polish border in a short time, he mentioned. However three weeks later, each of them had been again in Derzhiv, their adopted dwelling for the final 10 years. What we’re seeing right here, the solidarity on a army and a humanitarian stage, is inspiring and offers you hope, mentioned Reelfs.

Poker sport’

With the west of Ukraine up to now largely spared from the lethal combating raging within the south and east, the 2 males determined to go forward and begin sowing their crops. The pair had already managed to safe the gas, fertilizer and seeds they wanted. They started by sowing the sugar beets, which will likely be adopted by corn in round two weeks’ time and soybeans in round two months. It’s too early to inform whether or not the crops will ever be harvested, however for now, Reelfs is bound it was the correct resolution. He additionally feels a sure duty to scale back the chance of catastrophic famines world wide because of the warfare. Earlier than the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest exporter of corn and was on its approach to changing into the third largest exporter of wheat behind Russia and america.

Corn, wheat and sunflower oil costs have already soared in current weeks and the state of affairs appears to be like set to worsen if the breadbasket of Europe is unable to maintain up with the standard provides. The 2 German farmers know that going forward with the harvest is a large threat Ñ a poker sport, in accordance with Reelfs. What is going to occur in six months, once we harvest, I truthfully don’t know, mentioned Nandelstaedt. Some farms have already been hit by missiles or attacked by floor troops. Fields are burning. If that occurs right here, it will likely be over.


Reelfs and Nandelstaedt have spent the final decade build up their farm in Ukraine, which covers 1,900 hectares of land and employs 25 folks. The enterprise companions, who’ve been associates for over a decade, had been amongst a wave of farmers who took up leases on land in Ukraine after the autumn of the Soviet Union, attracted by a budget costs and fertile soil. They favored the concept of an journey and the prospect to construct every little thing from scratch, in accordance with Reelfs.

Between 2008 and 2009, we visited virtually 50 villages and there was nonetheless obtainable land in every single place, he mentioned. After we began out, you would hire a hectare of land for 17 euros ($18.70) and will even pay in type, with wheat or sugar. At present, we pay effectively over 100 euros right here and it’s greater than 200 euros in lots of areas. It’s an indication of how a lot Ukraine has modified through the years, he mentioned: Corruption has significantly decreased… and the usual of dwelling has bought higher and higher.

Reelfs believes it has been a shock to the Russian forces to see that persons are under no circumstances sad with their authorities, they wish to assist the military and defend their nation. Throughout their keep in Germany, Reelfs and Nandelstaedt collected 130,000 euros in donations for Ukraine and helped to rearrange lodging for round about 170 folks in villages round Berlin. Despite the fact that all of them really feel welcome there, they wish to return to Ukraine as quickly as potential, mentioned Reelfs. – AFP



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