Farming under fire on the front line in eastern Ukraine

SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE (AFP) – The combine harvester lies crippled in a field of eastern Ukraine, surrounded by a blackened patch of cropland.

The machine was lumbering through a pasture outside the village of Maidan – around 20km from the front line with Russian forces – when it struck a mine, according to farmer Pavlo Kudimov.

One front wheel was wrenched off and the giant rotating reel prised aside, as the cabin was scorched by flames.

The next morning, the driver remained in hospital suffering serious burns as the wreck still smouldered.

It was a reminder of the risks of tending land in a breadbasket that has become a brutal war zone.

“Farming has always been hard, but it is even harder now,” Mr Kudimov told AFP.

At the start of August, the first shipment of grain left Ukraine since Russia launched its large-scale invasion and blockaded Kyiv’s ports on the southern Black Sea.

Ukraine accounts for 10 per cent of the world wheat market and the boat left under a deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, eager to assuage a global food price crisis hammering poor nations.

Inside Ukraine, the embargo on grain exports has created a crisis for farmers.

With no access to international markets, silos are full, prices have dived and the supply chain logjam has yet to ease up.

‘Risking our lives’

Farmers in Donbas – the eastern region where the war with Russia shifted after the Kremlin gambit to capture Kyiv failed – are facing threats on two fronts.

Comprising the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Donbas is the industrial and farming heartland of Ukraine.

But every day, the air raid sirens sound. Rockets rain down, military jets attack ground targets and cluster bombs speckle fields.

Disclaimer: This report is automatically generated from worldwide news services. NTN is not responsible for its content and does not moderate it.

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