"Commodity lending today is a real help to a small farmer to start sowing on time", head of "Stepove" Vitaly Dubenets

The Stepove farm was registered in 2004. The business was started by the father and for some time he worked independently, but later his son Vitaly joined him. "I was in the civil service for a long time, but twelve years ago I decided that it was worth continuing my father's business. You can even say that my love for agriculture is a certain tradition, since my grandfather also worked on the land, and during the Soviet Union he was even disarmed," Vitaly Dubenets says.

The farm grows corn, sunflower, soy and beans. It has its own equipment for processing. The farmer says that with the start of the full-scale invasion, working conditions have changed very significantly and, of course, not in the best way.

In the first days of the war, there was no sales at all. We had some grain left over that we wanted to sell to get money for planting, but we couldn't do it. When the grain corridor became operational, it became easier. And now logistics is actually eating up our income. The price for freight actually tripled. Also, purchase prices have changed, profitability has decreased, and all credit programs have disappeared. We are used to the fact that there were many preferential government programs. These include interest-free loans and reimbursements for the purchase of Ukrainian-made agricultural machinery. And with the beginning of the war, everything ended. Yes, you can take a loan from the bank, but it is extremely difficult to do so, because the bank requires a solid pledge, a credit history, and I don’t even want to talk about the preparation of documents and the length of time it takes to make decisions," says the farmer.

Under such conditions, the farmer began to reduce expenses — he optimized expenses, reduced the use of mineral fertilizers. But it is impossible to save on everything. That is why, in 2024, "Stepove" received a commodity loan under the program "Farmer, Loan for you" of the company "Agro Arena", which, with the support of the USAID’s Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities Activity (AGRO), implements a commodity lending project for micro, small and medium producers. The farm purchased crop protection products, corn seeds and fertilizers.

The farmer explains the choice of lending under this program by the fact that he has been cooperating with Agro Arena for several years in a row. "We have been cooperating since 2016, this year we became a participant in the "Farmer, Loan for you" program. Agro Arena's portfolio includes a fairly wide range of products for sowing - seeds, seeds and fertilizers, we are always satisfied with the quality - because we work with an official distributor, all products have quality certificates, an additional advantage for us is that even the sowing products are stored in a certified warehouse in Cherkasy, which meets all the requirements for the storage of both crop protection products and seeds, fertilizers - in this way, we are protected from product spoilage and theft. We receive the goods from the warehouse before sowing, and we can pay in the fall, both in terms of funds and to receive help from Agro Arena in selling the harvest at a favorable price, which is very important in these conditions. And what's impressive is that the Agro Arena team works very quickly, this applies to decision-making, product shipment, and consulting," says the farmer.

Despite the fact that it is not easy to work on land today, the farm has development plans: "With such support, you can plan to expand the land bank, increase the area under cultivation, it would also be interesting to try to grow niche crops, for example berries, because, in my opinion, it is worth switching to the cultivation of more profitable crops."

Answering the question of what motivates him to work most now, Vitaliy Dubenets says: "We are working as we used to. All processes are established, we are sowing. We live. The Ukrainian people are indomitable."

To become a participant in the commodity lending project "Farmer, loan for you", submit an application on the website or call the hotline number 0-800-307-001. All details are on the website: www:agro-arena.com.ua.
The activity made possible through support provided by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USAID’s Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities Activity (AGRO) implemented by Chemonics International
The activity made possible through support provided by the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USAID’s Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities Activity (AGRO) implemented by Chemonics International
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