In Greek, Taifa means “family.” Thanks to the large family of strangers who helped in them at the beginning, some with equipment, some with money or advice, Oleksandr Chymchykovskiy, now Taifa’s deputy director, was able to establish a small farm. With this kind of support, his company has continued to operate ever since fighting broke out in the region.
“The border with the Donetsk People’s Republic is only seven kilometres away,” says Chymchykovskiy. “How do you think it’s been? In 2014-2015, it was scary to go out and cultivate the fields. There was constant shelling and some of the land was mined. First, the sappers went to the fields, and then our employees.”
The Taifa farm is located in Kamyanka, a village in Donetsk Oblast. Chymchykovskiy started developing the company in the early 2000s. Today, Taifa has around 1,500 hectares and 30 permanent employees growing wheat, corn, sunflower and peas. But it’s anything but easy to run the enterprise, Oleksandr admits: “Many people have left the region because of the fighting. But when you work the land, you can’t really do that. Prices for our products are lower than in other regions of Ukraine. We buy seeds in Kharkiv or grow them ourselves. Fertilizers we buy from Zaporizhzhia or Kharkiv. It’s not easy for us, but we keep going because everyone needs bread.”
New equipment instead kludging old junk
In 2020, the company decided to gradually upgrade its equipment, because most of it was really old. When they learned about the FinancEast programme, which finances SMEs in eastern Ukraine, they immediately started preparing the necessary papers to buy a new combine.
“We bought an Italian New Holland combine that was made in 2020,” says Chymchykovskiy. “We already had two Hollands, but they were really old. And the difference is amazing! This harvester is very modern, efficient and comfortable. Our combine operators don't want to go out this one’s cab because it's cool and comfortable inside.”
The new machine makes it possible to cover 45 hectares a day. That’s 150% more than the old one could do. And it leaves far less waste.
The combine cost UAH 5.5 million and Taifa paid 10% of the down payment. The Business Development Fund also paid an additional 10% for them and refunded 40% of the total cost. The rest was covered by a two-year loan from OTP Leasing at 17% per annum.
Combine for DON IVKO AND S
Thanks to the FinancEast programme, another farm in Donetsk Oblast also bought a new combine. DON IVKO AND S with the help of the Business Development Fund under the EU4Business initiative purchased a new John Deere. The combine cost more than UAH 7 million. The Fund covered 8% of the down payment and 40% of the total cost. The rest of the sum was leased by OTP.
“The new combine is exactly right for modern market conditions,” says DON IVKO AND S CEO Ivan Bakhurets. “It’s got GPRS-navigation, which simplifies the operator’s job. It’s super reliable and keeps working when you need it most. And we don’t have to invest every year in repairs, because everything is new. We used this combine during the harvesting last year. The results were great.”
Bakhurets says that the seasonal payments arranged with OTP Leasing have been very helpful. The amount varies according to the stage of the farmwork: less in the spring, when they needed to spend money on fertilizers and seeds. This kind of flexible approach makes a huge difference to farmers.
DON IVKO AND S has been growing wheat, rapeseed and sunflowers in Bakhmut County, Donetsk Oblast, since 2008. They have 2,000 ha of land. In the first years of the war, their fields were constantly under fire and they regularly lost most of their profits. In 2016, despite being close to the line of contact, Bakhmut was officially withdrawn from the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone. Since that time, the farm has been paying standard taxes to Ukraine.
The FinancEast programme is really the only opportunity for small and medium-sized farms in the Donbas to expand and develop, Bakhurets admits: “Because of the hostilities in the east, it’s difficult for us to obtain commercial loans, so this programme means a lot. Without it, we would have been saving money for a new combine for years. And spent too much of it trying to repair our old stuff.”
About the FinancEast programme
FinancEast is implemented by KfW, Germany’s state development bank and the Business Development Fund under the European Union Support for the East of Ukraine Programme and the EU4Business initiative. Its main partners are Oshchadbank, OTP Leasing and Ukrgazbank.
FinancEast provides a reimbursement of up to 50% of the investment project cost.