Labour shortage takes toll on Ukrainian backyard farms

Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

Backyard farms in Ukrainian rural areas massively slaughter their pigs. This puts pressure on prices, local news outlet Golos reported. A lack of working hands due to mass mobilisation is believed to play a vital role in this trend.

“In many villages, very few men of working age are left; all of them are at war. Because of this, households are getting rid of livestock,” said Oleg Pendzin, head of the Economic Discussion Club, a local constancy.

He added that pig and dairy farmers are the 2 segments of agriculture primarily affected by this challenge, since the share of backyard farms in pork and dairy production is traditionally high.

“Men are drafted, while women simply cannot cope with caring for animals since it is hard work. So, cows and pigs are massively sold for slaughter, often to intermediaries and at large discounts, and young animals are not purchased [in replacement],” Pendzin said.

Rural bias

According to analysts, the pig industry suffers due to a “rural bias” of mass mobilisation. “Mobilisation is especially widespread in villages. It is easier to find men there than in cities, as everyone is in plain sight. In addition, rural residents, as practice shows, are less inclined to evade the conscript,” Pendzin indicated.

“In villages, people usually live at their place of registration. It is harder to find people in the city. They are often not registered at all or do not live at the place of registration,” Solomiya Bobrovskaya, a member of the parliamentary committee on national security, said.

Oversupply emerges

Alexandra Bondarskaya, an analyst with the Ukrainian Pig Farmers Association, admitted that villagers massively hand over pigs for slaughter. Speaking with Golos, she even stated that the trend has driven the domestic market to a state of oversupply, which is likely to be a temporary phenomenon.

For instance, in December 2023, the average farmgate price of pigs dropped by 13% to 67.2 hryvnia ($1.71) per kilogram. She added that in January 2024, the price lost another 10 hryvnia ($0.26) per kilogram. The downward trend has continued since September 2023, when the average price of pork in the country stood at 84.2 hryvnia ($2.15).

Golos admitted that the “meat feast” seen in the past several months will fade away soon, spurring prices as the effect of the mass pig slaughter will be seen. In April, the wholesale prices are predicted to jump by 10% to 15% and keep rising by 3% to 5% per month through the rest of 2023, Golos said, citing the analysts.

ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world
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