Ukrainian farm owners have secured a derogation from the Ukrainian government to allow 50% of farm labourers to stay working on their farms, rather than joining the army in the war against Russia, according to general director of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club (UCAB) Roman Slaston.

The permission was sought by farm owners and granted by the Ukrainian ministry of defence and ministry of agrarian policy and food last week as a means of ensuring the country’s food security during the conflict, according to the farmer representative.

The move comes as the country’s tillage farmers face labour shortages during the essential spring planting campaign.

Slaston said: “As farmers face the shortage of employees, now some can stay away from the army.

“In mid-April and the beginning of May, without such a procedure, farms will only have 50% of the tractor drivers they need.”

Gave away machinery

Slaston said that there will be other challenges for the crop planting campaign over the coming weeks.

Speaking near Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, he said: “Some farmers have given their tractors and other machinery to the army for transporting weapons and building roadblocks.”

He said that while all farmers have been happy to “volunteer” this support, some now face tractor shortages for completion of their own farm work.

The farmer representative said farmers “everywhere, in every region of Ukraine” have been volunteering their support to the war effort.

He described how “every farmer is donating for free to feed those who have to leave their homes, east and south of Ukraine”. He explained that priority is placed on “feeding the cities who suffer the most” and the army.

Food security

Slaston claimed Ukraine is “not seeing a big problem for food security right now”, but that there is increased demand, given displaced people and the army.

“Ukraine will have enough food. A basic supply will be in place, but supply to the globe is a big question,” he said.

He explained that “each region has administration looking at food security”, which can “assess what they need and work to make supply”.


Asked what Ireland can do to support Ukraine, Roman Slaston called for a continuation of existing and additional sanctions, particularly those relating to Russian agricultural products such as fertiliser.

He said: “We see that it works. We see that the Russians are starting to realise the very hard consequences of this war.

“We hope that the situation will change from inside Russia. We believe that this push will end the war sooner.”

Read more

War in Ukraine causes the EU rethink

Ukraine’s farmers hope to reach 70% of traditional crop output