How Ukrainian farmers are adapting to climate change

International Development Week in Canada takes place from Feb 6-12th and MEDA is examining several key themes and areas during this time. Climate change is arguably the most important issue that the world faces today. We explore this theme in detail by discussing our UHBDP project in Ukraine and how our clients are adapting to climate change.

Climate change is having a severe impact on agricultural producers in Ukraine. The changing climate has resulted in extreme weather events, like droughts, floods, dry spells, and hailstones, that have become all too common.

Pests are another frequent impact of climate change, including the Tomato Leafminer moth. Since 2010, Ukraine has recorded rapid growth in the population of this pest. The moth originated in South America and was not prevalent in Eastern Europe because of its preference for warmer weather. However, due to the increase in the average annual temperature in Ukraine, the Tomato Leafminer moth population also increased which directly impacted tomato production in Ukraine. Another factor in the growth of this type of moth in the region has been the absence of any natural predators in Southern Ukraine. Finally, the moth developed a strong resistance to all known chemical insecticides. Experts have further corroborated this pest’s increased presence in Ukraine and provided a disappointing forecast. For example, in 2019, the director of the greenhouse complex Agrocoin, Volodymyr Vyshniakov, predicted future problems with the leafminer moths in the vegetable sector.

“There are some challenges every year, but the last six months they roll like a snowslip. The fact is that this (2019) year tomato moth has multiplied so much that it has already reached every corner of Ukraine. At the same time, it damages not only tomatoes but also eggplants and potatoes. And it turns out, in a year and a half, the tomato moth, will cause a catastrophic blow to all nightshade crops everywhere the infected tomato was brought,” Volodymyr said.

Volodymyr’s forecasts came true, unfortunately. During the 2020 season, there was a further moth increase in the Southern Regions of Ukraine, where tomato is a popular crop. Small and medium agricultural producers in the region who have been growing vegetables in the closed ground were unprepared for the infestation.

The UHBDP team engaged with the Biozakhyst to solve this crucial problem. They specialize in providing biological protection against pests through predatory insects. With their support, the UHBDP project organized three webinars. There was strong interest in these webinars as they addressed this pest control concept. With increased interest, at the beginning of 2021, a 10-day online course on biosecurity in greenhouses was organized. More than 70 agricultural producers from across Ukraine took part in the course. Twenty of the attendees successfully passed the course. As their reward, Biozakhyst gave the attendees entomophages (predatory insects) for their pest control activities.

Two farmers and UHBDP Environmental Specialist, Dmytro, showing greenhouse produce

Iryna Yevtuh, a farmer from the Kherson region, participated in this course. She was one of the successful course attendees and appreciated the gift of entomophages.

“They came in two boxes: pretty, green… Leaping! We immediately brought them into the greenhouse, and they began their defensive business. As a result: greenhouse plants are free, without pests and additional chemical treatments. We gathered a good harvest without pesticides. The new method’s advantages: high-quality harvest, reduction of financial costs, and chemical treatment. As a result: no pests’ resistance to chemicals develops because they are hunted by the entomophages,” Iryna remarked.

Climate change poses new challenges for agricultural producers. The UHBDP team understands that unique solutions will be needed to address these challenges. There is increased confidence among the project team and clients that Ukraine has the necessary knowledge to support farmers who experience the impacts of climate change. The project has provided webinars/courses to clients and various grants and offered unique solutions/products. Not all can afford to take risks, but the project has been blessed with a percentage of clients that have become innovators. They are ready to try something new and take risks. The project is proud of its participants, and it is looking forward to continuing to support them with their needs.

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Authors

  • Dmytro Kravtsov

    Former UHBDP Environmental Specialist

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  • Mira Maude Chouinard

    Former Sr. Manager, Global Programs Operations

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  • Mujtaba Ali

    Former Senior Technical Specialist, Environment and Climate Change (ECC), MEDA. Mujtaba contributed his expertise to program design, annual work plans, annual budgets, and other critical project documents. He also ensured that specific technical components for projects are implemented in his projects' countries, including Ukraine, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Myanmar, and the Philippines.

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