Feature: Lviv Diaries -- Ukrainian farmers lend a helping hand to evacuees amid conflict

(Xinhua) 13:24, March 11, 2022

LVIV, Ukraine, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Amid the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian farmers have been assisting in accommodating evacuees and offering humanitarian aid.

Fortunately, the conflict has not impacted their ability to grow crops in Ukraine's highly fertile chernozem soil, or black soil, which covers more than half of the arable land in the country, often referred to as the breadbasket of Europe.

"We're very sorry for the situation, and it's distressful especially for me -- the husband of my daughter is a soldier," said Nadja-Halyna Romaniuk, head of the Yablunivka village, some 60 km east of Lviv in western Ukraine.

Romaniuk, who also has a son, said the military conflict has brought great changes to her family. Her son, a worker in Kiev, left the capital together with 11 acquaintances last week, and Romaniuk's country cottage has since become a shelter for them all.

She is not the only one sheltering the evacuees these days. The cottage of Romaniuk's mother has been accommodating six people.

In addition to taking care of those who had to leave their homes, the villagers have been preparing extra food, as well as collecting and sending humanitarian aid to those in need.

Ukraine and Russia have agreed to set up six humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians, Ukrainian media reported on Wednesday. Volunteers were spotted evacuating dozens of people from villages near Kiev under a temporary ceasefire.

Lviv, a safe haven for now, has seen the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy said the city had reached the limits of its capacity to help evacuees from the fighting.

In Yablunivka, a layer of white snow covered the chernozem, which is rich in organic matter and is ideal for growing cereals and raising livestock. Ukraine, the second largest country by area in Europe, has one of the largest chernozem areas in the world, and is thus a major exporter of wheat, barley, rapeseed and other crops.

Romaniuk and her husband own one and a half hectares of grazing and arable land, where they grow potatoes and crops. They also raise a horse, some pigs and chickens.

For Romaniuk's family, farming activities have not been impacted so far, but with a deep sigh she said she did not know what the future will bring if the conflict further escalates.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, failed to make progress on a ceasefire but agreed to continue negotiations over the conflict during their meeting in Turkey on Thursday. 

(Web editor: Peng yukai, Liang Jun)


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