Ukrainian farmers are investing in the dairy sector on land that has not been occupied by Russia, the president of the Association of Milk Producers of Ukraine, Andriy Dykun has said.

There are thousands of dairy cows in Ukraine which cannot be exported and sold, thus the decision was made to “take the risk” and expand the dairy sector, according to Dykun.

Before the war, Ukraine sold dairy heifers to central Asia, however, the Black Sea has been “blocked” since, he told the Australian Dairy Conference recently held in Melbourne.

Dykun added that dairy heifers can’t be exported through Romania or Bulgaria either, citing long waiting times for the veterinary certificates necessary for export.

Ukrainian farmers

Ukrainian farmers need to “add value” and produce milk amid issues with grain exports, he told the conference and added that large-scale milk production in Ukraine is “a good thing”.

In 2023, despite losses of 50,000 dairy cows and 100 dairy farms, milk yields were up by 15% and returned to pre-war levels of milk produced at three million tonnes, Dykun said.

The agri-sector remains the “backbone” of the economy and particularly the dairy sector, which produced “more milk than Australia” before the war, has “enormous potential”, he said.

Mines are the biggest challenge for the agriculture sector in wartime Ukraine with over two million hectares of land mined, including thousands of fields, according to Dykun.

Speaking at the conference, he shared footage of many destroyed farms, including a 1,150-cow dairy farm in the Kharkiv region which lost 30% of its herd under Russian occupation.

Agriland previously spoke to Dykun, who is also the chair of the Ukrainian Agri Council (UAC), about how the war has impacted agricultural production in Ukraine.