One of the key priorities of our work is personal and professional development of youth in rural areas. Focus on the need to intensify communication with agrarian business in rural Ukraine where, while rich in the farming sector, is in its formative or infancy stage when it comes to ‘organic farming”.
Together with RitterBioAgro, a leader in organic farming in Ukraine, and its director, Viktor Sherbachuk, we decided to support the Pluzhne Agrarian Lyceum (Hmelnitska Oblast) to become partner of the common initiative to adapt the study plan and teaching methods to the needs of organic farming and, in general, a changing world under the conditions of climate change.
In April 2021 we visited, for the first time, the Pluzhne Community. During this visit, we were introduced to the Agrarian Lyceum in Pluzhne, together with representatives of RitterBioAgro and Organic Standard, a certifying body for organic companies and their products. As a result of this meeting, a strategic decision was made to transform all land, belonging to the Lyceum, into land of exclusive organic use and to implement new teaching and learning methods, with focus on sustainable development education. This process will be managed by the National University of Water Management and Natural Resource Use (NUWM), which has an affiliated chair (joint project) of organic farming at RitterBioAgro. Since this meeting, our relationship with the Pluzhne community has become stronger.
These activities will enable the students of the Lyceum to cope with the challenges of a globalized world and the transition of Western agriculture according the European Green Deal. Indeed, most of them will work immediately after graduating. However, they have the option to get access to Agrarian universities in Ukraine and, with the assistance of MKUA, to participate in different programs of youth exchange (academic exchange, international volunteering etc.).
Another important aspect of this process of development of professional and personal skills of rural youth representatives is related to self-employment. We want to encourage them to use the liberalization of the land market in Ukraine as a chance to become farmers and start their own business.
For now, it is planned that the students of the lyceum will have the opportunity to get in contact with students from NUWM and participate in different trainings and study lessons together. Also, there will be internships offered to them, during which they can gain first professional experience and see modern agricultural equipment in use. These internships will be organized at different sites of RitterBioAgro, which has several locations in Rivnenska and Hmeltnitska oblast. At the graduation ceremony of the Lyceum that took place on June 25, 2021, a cooperation agreement was signed between the three mentioned parties. Alla Kucharova was appointed as coordinator.
Successful graduates based on merit will get assistance from RitterBioAgro to start their business with vegetables and fruits. RitterBioAgro has large fields of strawberry, cranberry, rheum, pumpkins, to name a few, the demand for which is rising on national and international markets.
Currently the faculty and students of the Lyceum are on summer holidays, but our work continues. We have just finalized and submitted our application for a grant of the U.S Embassy Public Democracy Education program, and are awaiting the approval. Partners of this project, which aims to raise the quality of teaching and learning at vocational schools with focus on organic farming, would be NUWM, NGO Organic Ukraine West (Oranichna Ukraina Zahid, GO) as well as the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources which is closely linked with the United States Department Of Agriculture.
This project would also help us to strengthen cooperation with, and between, two regions, Rivnenska and Hmelnitska oblast as well as two communities, Ostroh and Pluzhne, which are part of the Greater Ostroh agglomeration, famous for its academy, rich cultural heritage and inexhaustive potential of young creative people.