Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ivankiv Raion

Last week I spent a few days in Ivankiv Raion, north of Kyiv. They call it the Polissia region here in Ukraine. In Saskatchewan we call it the Parkland belt. Mixed forest, conifer and deciduous, gray wooded soils, poor fertility but grows lots of grass. Beautiful country.
Real cow country but not many cows any more. The traditional production systems that worked under the former centrally planned and financed regime are simply economically unsustainable and farms have been selling off cattle all over Ukraine. We are not quite at the point where the last cow can turn out the light in the barn but feedlots and packers are scrambling for supply.

The poultry industry has gone fully modern and could compete anywhere. Chicken is one-third the price of beef or pork in the grocery stores. Pork industry is rapidly shifting to large integrated commercial farms, though the backyard pig pen still exists in every village. Cattle are always the last to adopt new technology in any culture. Dairy farms are modernizing here slowly, mainly strangled by lack of capital for everything. Most milk is still produced by dual purpose cattle meaning the worst of all possible worlds. They don't give milk, nor meat and have all the costs associated with intensive dairy production.

But it is changing, slowly but surely. The people of Ukraine are survivors; if you look at their history you wonder how but they are still here. Attitudes are the hardest to change. But the survivors are changing as fast as they feel can afford to. One of the people we met with attended our beef and forage school back in 1999. Were we ever surprised to see each other.
We stayed at a decent hotel in Ivankiv "Hunting House" outside of Ivankiv that is geared inside and out to the hunting crowd in the fall. All decorated like private hunting lodges of the rich and powerful.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the pix and the story. Really does look like "Chrome on the Range" country to me. Sounds like the locals have been "cowed" by their own thinking; that's no "bull."

    You could easily put 50 to 100 head on the land in the pic. But where's the "local" packing plant, and how do you get the cattle to the plant?

    (Damned reporters; always questions, questions.)

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  2. I must say the people in that part of the world must be the toughest in the world. When they first came here to the U.S. after the fall you could see in their faces what they had been through.

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  3. May-B, it is breathtakingly beautiful country up there. Rivers and trees and grass.
    RB - It is grass country but not feedlot country, unless you count 400 kg slaughter wts at 30 months of age. They are close to Kyiv, a 5 to 7 million person market so no problems there.
    Demeur - if you know your history, you have an idea of what Ukraine has been through just in the last 100 years. Enough misery, starvation and murder to last any country a couple of millennium.

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  4. I recognize it's not feedlot country -- I just couldn't effectively anticipate the size of the area involved or the quality of the grass, or what else might be available.

    Plus; Allan Savory lives!

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  5. It looks like Ivankiv is about 50km from Chernobyl. Was this area affected significantly by the nuclear accident?

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  6. Hey, DC -- haven't you seen the new glow that Blog Fodder has taken on?

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  7. Ivankiv Raion was mostly not affected at all by Chornobyl. It is part of Zone 3 (voluntary resettlement) and Zone 4 (mandatory radiation testing of all products shipped out). The farms I visited have always been far below any threshold since day 1. Actually Kyiv got far more radiation from the disaster than most of Ivankiv.

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