Ukrainian Family Dairy Farms Grow Businesses with Credit Union Financing, Despite Ongoing War
Young and motivated, Mariya and Bohdan Zabrodotski are raising three kids while running a 15-cow dairy farm in Volyn Oblast that produces 200 liters of milk per day.
“I received a cow as a gift from my parents when I married Bohdan. That’s how we started,” says Mariya with a smile.
Despite Russia’s war against Ukraine, the young farmers wished to continue with their plans to grow their business. However, to buy more cows and agricultural equipment to produce feed, Mariya and Bohdan needed financing. They were able to gain access to loans from Credit Union Vygoda, which cooperates with the USAID Credit for Agriculture Producers (CAP) Project in Ukraine as participants of the Family Dairy Farms Project, and Natural Milk, a local dairy cluster farm.
The partnership between the credit union and the dairy cluster began after CAP Project staff provided extensive training to partner credit unions around agricultural development. The CAP Project encouraged credit unions to scale up their role in their communities by collaborating with local cooperatives and agricultural clusters. The Project first trained credit unions on the benefits of collaboration with agricultural cooperatives back in 2019. After Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, the CAP Project deepened partner credit unions’ knowledge of agriculture during a critical time. Project staff have helped credit unions learn how to conduct market analyses and build long-term partnerships with local agriculture-related businesses.
This led directly to Credit Union Vygoda, a CAP Project partner, signing a memorandum of understanding with the Family Dairy Farms Project. To date, Vygoda has disbursed three loans to members of the Natural Milk cluster farm totaling UAH 660,000 (approximately US $18,000).
Mariya and Bohdan received a loan of UAH 250,000 (approximately US $7,000) from Vygoda. This allowed them to purchase maize chopping equipment and five more cows. With a 30-percent increase in daily milk production, Mariya started a cheese line. She now produces different types of cheeses, including caciotta, haloumi, suluguni and chechil, selling them in the local food market and shipping them throughout Ukraine.
“We need to develop what is ours. We don’t want to move abroad,” says Mariya, explaining their choice to stay in Ukraine and continue to run their dairy farm, despite Russia’s ongoing war.