Within the framework of the “Ukrainian Donetsky Kurkul,” an agreement was signed between the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, different administrative services of the Donetsk Civil Military Administration and private entrepreneur, 32-year-old Artem Butov. Artem was one of the several winners of a grant supporting small- and middle-sized businesses in the region.
The maximum amount of financial support offered by this programme amounts to $18,800. Half of the amount is allocated by the regional budget, and half is allocated by the local territorial community or district authorities from the local budget. The projects should have an innovative component (they must be created with advanced technologies and aimed at manufacturing products according to world quality standards), as well as a social component (they must create new jobs).
The programme was presented to the board of the Donetsk Regional State Administration in Kramatorsk in April, 2017. Head of the civil military regional administration, Pavlo Zhebrivsky said:
“I chose the word “kurkul*” on purpose. It’s an obvious marketing move, but it’s catchy! We want to stimulate people that have ideas, desires and a vision. We want to help them implement their vision. The Soviet regime annihilated private ownership, but Ukrainians will revive it because a private entrepreneur, an independent owner, is the foundation of a powerful democratic society.”
(*A rich or supposedly rich peasant, targeted during Soviet collectivization, especially in the context of Ukraine-Ed).
“I’m happy to announce that the very first person to receive this grant is Artem Butov,” Pavel Zhebrivsky said. “When Russian troops invaded our land, Artem took up arms and stood in their way. Today, he continues his fight against traumatic stress and PTSD. When he returned to civilian life, Artem decided to launch a poultry farm. He’s already started working and will probably create jobs for the village locals. I believe that Artem is a prime example of a real Ukrainian “Kurkul” from Donetsk – prosperous, fair, free and self-sufficient. In the near future, we hope to sign another twelve contracts with other winners. Godspeed to all Ukrainian “Kurkuls”!”
The winners will receive grants to create new enterprises, and can additionally take out a loan, the interest on which can be compensated for through this programme.
Artem will use these funds to purchase new equipment. He’s no newcomer to agriculture as he already has his own registered trademark – “Drobyshevski Chickens”.
“I intend to develop a new business line based on my poultry farm in the village of Drobysheve, Lymansky Raion, Donetsk Oblast.” says Artem. “Using this financing, I plan to deliver 2,500 chickens every two months. One of my assistants has already received the title of “kurkul” and, accordingly, the funds, which we’ll use to create a cooperative. The cooperative intends to open a small factory where we’ll process, pack and freeze our meat products, which will be certified according to the European food system – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point.”
Artem has achieved international quality standards thanks to an innovative method of raising poultry: on his farm he uses a bio-fermentation technique for chicken manure.
“Such techniques process chicken manure and absorb the smell.” explains Artem. “My poultry farm smells of pine needles! It’s like walking in a forest! There’s 18(!) times less ammonia in my birds than in those raised according to old technologies.”
Artem dreams of finding an investor who will be interested in his business plans, or getting another grant in order to buy the property he leases. He’s currently developing a strategy for non-polluting production.
“My assistants and I want to build a greenhouse where poultry waste will be used as an organic fertilizer. We can grow green onions, for example, and then we’ll process the products in our factory – they’ll be washed, chopped, dried and sold. We want to organize a cooperative so that each villager has the opportunity to earn money on his own plot of land. By the way, this is one of the conditions of the “Kurkul” agreement: to create jobs and self-sufficiency through self-employment.”
Not only is Artem an innovative farmer, but he’s also an activist – the head of the local NGO “Dilova Lymanshchyna” (Business in Lymansky Raion). He firmly believes that other war veterans, who have the right to receive land allotments, could participate in his business venture.
“The local authorities promised that they would allocate more land that we’ll use with other war veterans. Many of my countrymen and brothers-in-arms are farmers. Land plus grant programmes can help us reach a whole new level of farm management and life in general. If a man leases his land, he gets one or three thousand hryvnias a year. But, if he grows cereals, vegetables, etc. and delivers them to our co-operative for processing, he can earn ten times more!”
Artem has already drawn up a business plan for the future cooperative, so that this enterprise can take part as a legal entity in the next “Kurkul” programme. He also intends to participate in the global competition – USAID Agro Challenge.
“This is an American programme to support Ukrainian farmers where $20 million have been allocated to finance cooperatives for the processing of agricultural products grown on our land. It’s more profitable not only to grow, but also to process our own products, and particularly, to dry them. There aren’t many goods like that on the Ukrainian market today. I also work with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps farmers in post-Soviet countries, using modern technology, producing goods that meet the safety and quality requirements prescribed in Europe and the United States. All our production will be certified in accordance with these standards.
My poultry farm is used as a demonstration farm, that is, it’s not just about production, but it’s also a project designed to show novice farmers how to work and get their products on the European market.”
Artem and other veterans plan to travel to Western Ukraine and Europe as the “Kurkul” programme provides for training of new entrepreneurs in Europe, as well as business trips to exchange views and experience in other Ukrainian regions.
“We want to learn from farmers who grow and process vegetables and fruits. We’re currently thinking of what product we should focus on… If the majority decides that it’s more profitable to grow garlic, then our fields will grow garlic, and we’ll travel to places that specialize in growing garlic. If it’s raspberries, then we’ll go visit a “raspberry farm”. Then, we’ll come back here and share our experience with the farmers who’ll grow this product on their land and transfer it to our cooperative for processing. You see, when every farmer makes a decent living, we’ll be able to develop our village.”
Artem went to fight for his country in April 2014. He was wounded in August and returned home. He received a UN grant, and organized a poultry farm.
“Before the war, I worked in many, many jobs because work is scarce in our region. But now, I’ve decided that it’s time to realize my dream – start my own business. We need to revive our villages that can feed all our people and many more… villages are the bastions of our nation!”