Ukrainian farmers lament razed-field losses

Courtesy of Pavlo Serhienko
A wheat farm burns following Russian shelling in Vasylivka, Zaporizhzhia, in mid-June.

Russia is targeting Ukrainian farmland, damaging unharvested grains and essential farming equipment.

Farmers are increasingly expressing concern over their future livelihoods in the face of the seemingly never-ending war.

“Everything I built up over the years has been destroyed,” farmer Serhiy Grigoryev told The Yomiuri Shimbun in mid-September.

Grigoryev, 53, grew wheat, barley and sunflowers on the outskirts of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, but Russian shelling since May has left about 700 hectares of his wheat fields in ashes. The shelling, which extended to Grigoryev’s warehouse and other buildings, also destroyed tillers and tractors.

“Russian troops are targeting agricultural land,” Grigoryev said angrily.

Similar fires have been reported across southern Ukraine.

In the city of Vasylivka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Russian firepower razed about 200 hectares of Pavlo Serhienko’s arable land, which he used to grow wheat, barley and other crops.

“The bombs started raining down when I was cutting and sowing,” said Serhienko, 24, who explained that Russian troops were only about 3 kilometers from his fields. Serhienko has estimated his losses to be about 200 million hryvnias (about ¥760 million).

Farming in war-torn Ukraine has also been heavily impacted by soaring prices of fuel, fertilizer and other related commodities. Ukraine is one of the world’s leading food suppliers — mainly of wheat — and the farming environment is getting every-tougher.

“It’s frightening that destruction is chosen over the pursuit of development and prosperity in the 21st century,” Serhienko said. “I wonder if this war will ever end.”

Police in Kherson Oblast, southern Ukraine, said Russia is continuing to intermittently target agricultural land.

Firefighting is a dangerous undertaking, which makes it difficult to mobilize large numbers of people to help extinguish blazes. Firefighting is not permitted in some areas occupied by the Russian military,

“Russia continues to destroy crops on purpose,” the police said.

The police are investigating cases of firebombing under national laws on war crimes.