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Crisis in Ukraine: Europlant seed potato distributor reflects on harrowing challenges

Potato News Today spoke with Mr. Yuriy Dyak from Record-Agro LLC in the Ukraine earlier today. Mr Dyak is the Director and owner of Record-Agro, a company that specializes in the import and distribution of elite class potato and vegetable seed, as well as crop protection products in the Ukraine. Record-Agro is the official distributor of seed potatoes in the Ukraine for the German based breeding company Europlant.

Mr Dyak informed us of the many challenges his company and its potato farming customers are facing at this time in Ukraine, including the bombing of one of his seed potato warehouses, and looting of farmers’ equipment and fuel by Russian soldiers.

A challenging year

“Last year we imported and distributed more than 1,000 tons of class E potato seed from Europlant to Ukraine. This year the situation is very difficult and most challenging, given the current war situation,” Mr Dyak says. “We are nevertheless trying our best to provide our customers with seed potatoes in good time for planting, given the challenging logistical problems and a host of other war time problems we are dealing with.

“This year, I believe that the main commercial potato cultivation in Ukraine will be for the most part be done by farmers in the Dnipropetrovsk region – an oblast of central and eastern Ukraine – and in Western Ukraine. The success of production in the Chernihiv region is still hanging in the balance and we do not know what the next few weeks will look like.”

One of Record-Agro’s biggest customers is Continental Farmers Group, an agricultural company with international investments which operates in the Western Ukrainian region. The company has offices in Ternopil and Kyiv.

Mr Dyak says Continental usually cultivates about 2,000 hectares of potatoes. The company operates modern potato storage facilities with a capacity of 106,200 tons, according to its website. It owns and maintains storage facilities in Chukva, Batyatychi, Vyriv, Zabuzhzhya, Vasyl’kivtsi, and a starch plant in Tovstenke.

Warehouse bombed

“Some of our warehouses in the Brovarsky district of the Kiev region have been under occupation for several weeks now,” Mr Dyak says. “A bomb hit our warehouse in Brovarsky and for the most part destroyed the building and the seed. In some of the other warehouses where we store seed there were no electricity supply since February 24.”

Aftermath of seed potato storage bombing in Brovarsky.
Credit Yurii Dyak
Aftermath of seed potato storage bombing in Brovarsky.
Credit Yurii Dyak

Looting

Mr Dyak says the Chernihiv region, an important area for potato production, has been under occupation for several weeks.

“The famers’ fields were mined,” he says. “The occupiers destroyed equipment, seed, took away fuel. At our client from Borodyanka, the invaders burned three John Deere tractors, stole three trucks, and stole all the fuel.”

Staying put

Despite the challenges, Yuriy Dyak told Potato News Today he has no plans of leaving the Ukraine at this time.

“I managed to leave Kyiv with my wife on February 24 to a safer area in western Ukraine. I needed to find ways to manage my company amidst this war, and put new strategies in place to stay afloat during these challenging times. And of course I still want to serve my customers and support the team who work with me.

“Many friends and collegues from abroad invited me to come for a visit, but I simply can not leave my team and my country at this time…”

Source: Yuriy Dyak, Record-Agro LLC. He can be reached at [email protected] for further information.
Cover photo: Smoke billowing from the Record-Agro seed potato warehouse in Brovarsky shortly after it was hit by a Russian bomb. Credit: Yuriy Dyak
Video below: Courtesy Yuriy Dyak
Editor’s note: Anyone with credible news about the potato industry situation in the Ukraine at this time and wish to inform Potato News Today is welcome to get in touch – we’d be happy to spread the word. Please get in touch with Lukie: [email protected]

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