Working with local NGOs, the EBRD helps junior vets find farm jobs.
Mornings are always very busy at the Molocharske farm in east Ukraine. With a herd of over 100 cows and 2000 litres of milk to be produced every day, a late start is not an option.
This is the first of many valuable lessons that almost 50 young trainees have learnt during a course to become junior vets, which was held at this farm last summer.
“It is very hard to find a fully qualified vet professional and currently there is a big unmet demand in the Ukrainian market,” explained Vitaly Tkach, the farm manager.
“Vets can manage most of the problems cattle encounter and really make a big contribution in running a farm safely and profitably. Cattle farms fight over a good vet: that’s how important they are for the animals and for the business.”
With such great demand for vets in small farms which abound in this largely rural country, the potential for job creation is great.
The dairy sector, in particular, is very promising as it plays a considerable role in the Ukrainian economy, with milk accounting for over 11 per cent of gross agricultural production.
To make the most of this and open up economic opportunities for young people living in rural areas, the EBRD has partnered with local civil society organisation Agricultural Advisory Services , which focuses on improving the rural economy and livelihoods in Ukraine.
With the EBRD’s support, the organisation has helped the social enterprise Cooperative Learning Farm, which runs Molocharse as a regular farm and a training centre at the same time.
The type of hands-on knowledge passed on here supplements the lessons vet students receive in formal education.
“In college we learn the theory but we have no practical experience,” said Karina Horban, an 18-years-old college student of veterinary medicine, who took part in the training.
Her career choice was very clear from the beginning. “Basically I love animals very much and I want to help them. I want to cure them of their illnesses and do everything I can to make their lives better.”
Aside from the passion for animals, of course, she is after a real job once her degree is completed. The sobering alternative would be to become part of that 22 per cent of young people in Ukraine aged 15 to 24 who are unemployed.
Mykola Kraisvitnyi, 21, also a trainee, echoed Karina’s sentiments.
“You can sit down and learn all about every illness, but until you see it, until you cure it, you can’t become a vet. There are a lot of people who have knowledge but aren’t able to put that knowledge into practise,” he explained.
“During this project, I’ve learnt how to cure mastitis and carry out procedures like taking blood and do ultrasound scans. All the work that I learned in theory during my studies, it was put it into practice here.”
At the end of the training, which was certified by the University of Dnipro, all the students were placed in internships in private agribusiness enterprises.
Eleven of them received employment offers and, among the trainees who completed their graduation, five are now working in cattle farms. The Molocharske farm programme will continue, even without the support of the EBRD.
“By working with local civil society organisations we can tackle issues that require more than finance,” said Biljana Radonjic Ker-Lindsay, EBRD Associate Director of the Civil Society Engagement Unit.
“By enhancing the local capacity of NGOs and other groups, we promote a better public-private dialogue on issues that concern many, from human rights to environmental and social issues, including youth and rural issues.”
It is all about supporting the economy in a more sustainable way. In addition to the €2.3 billion that the EBRD has already invested in agribusiness in Ukraine, donors like Japan, the TaiwanBusiness-EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the Ukraine Stabilisation and Sustainable Growth Multi Donor Account* in the past years have been supporting agribusiness and rural development.
The technical cooperation projects donors fund range from boosting farmers’ knowledge of international best practice, to raising awareness about coping with African swine fever or promoting the development of self-regulation mechanisms in Ukraine’s agribusiness sector.
Back at the Molocharske farm the preparation for the next training programme, which will be held twice a year, is underway, with the permanent support of the Dnipro Agrarian and Economic University and Novomoskovskiy college. The pilot project was only the beginning.
And for the EBRD too this was an important lesson. Given its success, similar training programmes in cooperation with local civil society organisations are being prepared elsewhere in Ukraine as well as in Turkey, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
*Donors of the Ukraine Multi Donor Account include: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, the largest donor.