Demonstration of wit and artistic approach

29 farming initiatives win UNDP contest for Chernobyl regions
By Vasily Kharitonov

Villagers have been invited to compete for funding set aside for innovative farming projects, including working together in groups. The contest has been run in the three Belarusian regions most affected by the Chernobyl disaster: Bragin, Stolin and Slavgorod. The International Foundation for Rural Development (IFRD) have joined regional consultants in registering 45 applications from local farmers.

Completing the necessary documentation has been a test in itself, as technical-economic targets have needed to be clearly defined, in addition to action plans and time schedules. In all, 29 applications have been chosen, with the winners given their requested materials. Participants contribute 30-50 percent of the total budget of each application (as stipulated by the contest rules).

“This year, residents of the selected regions have demonstrated an artistic approach, significantly expanding their range of initiatives compared to last year,” notes Olga Lukashkova, who heads the UNDP project on enhancing security. “Most of the proposals dealt with improving health within areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Villagers realise that their success as entrepreneurs depends on maintaining their well-being.”

Many of the applications have proposed joint production and sale of vegetables, meat and milk, with some suggesting the growing of raspberries and blueberries by individuals. The idea of growing cauliflowers is innovative for Belarusian farmers, who hope to see the crop rival frozen imports. In addition, 50 vegetable producers from Stolin have proposed joint purchase of a laboratory to assess the mineral content of plants, aiding the effective use of fertilisers and monitoring the concentration of nitrates. According to the IFRD co-ordinator, Andrey Iodko, the number of group applications is growing, as farmers realise the benefits of co-operation. The first harvests should show how well these joint projects are being realised.

The Enhancement of Security for Those Living in Territories Affected by the Chernobyl Disaster project is run jointly by the UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and Belarus’ Emergency Ministry.
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