The longer the occupation of Crimea by Russia continues, the more aggravated the negative situation gets in the agrarian sphere, which means that ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, traditionally employed in the agriculture of the peninsula, will be displaced from the peninsula.
According to the QHA correspondent, such a thesis was expressed by the Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov at the round table "Current state and prospects for the development of agriculture in the temporarily occupied Crimea." The organizers of the round table were the National Research Center "Institute of Agrarian Economics", the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and the QHA News Agency ("Crimean News").
“The invaders never come to a foreign land in order to develop it as a territory for the sake of people living on it. If they were thinking about people, they would not have carried out aggression and occupation," the Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people said.
According to Chubarov, all the actions of Russian invaders in the Crimea are aimed at turning it into a military base and this vector is actively developing at the cost (or limitations of development) of all other sectors. This, in particular, concerns the agrarian sector, which, if develops, will be limited in conditions. But industrial production or agricultural production under conditions of occupation and in conditions of limited water supply is impossible.
Moreover, by reducing the development of the agro industry, Russia is attaining another important goal: it displaces the disloyal Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars from the whole military base that the Crimea is to become. After all, these ethnic groups are traditionally engaged in the agro-sphere of the Crimea.
“The majority of the population now suffers from difficult conditions in the agricultural sphere - they are Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. And Russia will complicate the conditions for them in order to get rid of unwanted people. The rural sphere is quite labor-intensive, with the reduction of such spheres in the agricultural sector, Russia is pushing out people disloyal to the invaders and turning the Crimea into an outpost from which it will threaten the NATO countries - Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey. The decline of agriculture means the displacement of people, especially from the northern territories of the Crimea, where Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars live and work," Chubarov said.
He believes that it will be possible to conceptually solve the agrarian and other problems of Crimea by minimizing the period of restoration of Ukraine's sovereignty over the peninsula. Given that after the de-occupation of the peninsula Ukraine will face a very difficult period of the revival of the Crimean land after the negative effects of the invaders’ actions.
A member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, QHA agency director Gayana Yüksel also noted that in the four years of occupation the once flourishing Crimea is gradually turning into a military base, the ethnic composition of the population is being changed by displacing Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars and settling the peninsula by Russian citizens. Russia has appropriated land and agricultural enterprises in the Crimea.
“The militarization of the Crimea resulted in the disruption of traditional agriculture. The invader appropriated the assets of hundreds of Ukrainian enterprises, as well as agricultural lands and shares," she said.
Director of the National Research Center "Institute of Agrarian Economics", Doctor of Economics, Professor Yuriy Lupenko recalled that the Crimea occupied 3.6% of the territory of agricultural lands of Ukraine, as of 2013, the share of production of agricultural products was 2.6% (plant growing - 2 , 1%, livestock - 3.8%). According to him, following the occupation due to dehydration and other factors, agricultural areas have changed. A decrease in the volume of agricultural production and exports is observed as well.
“The dynamics of crop production and livestock production is close to the Ukrainian one, but the figures in rice production are zero, the grain indicators are growing, but for other types of products, the dynamics are different, but mostly it declines. The number of cattle is kept stable. According to our data, volume in grapes and wine production is falling," he noted.
Participants of the round table emphasized that the key problem of agriculture in the occupied Crimea is the lack of the required level of water supply after it was suspended through the North-Crimean channel. As a result, the irrigation areas are sharply reduced and soil salinity is observed.
Thus, Mikhail Romashchenko, director of the Institute of Water Problems and Land Reclamation (IVPiM), notes that the area of irrigation of farmland during the occupation has reduced tenfold and the situation cannot be corrected without restoring water supply through the North-Crimean channel.
“Before the occupation, 140 thousand hectares were irrigated, now - 14 thousand hectares. And these are the ultimate capacities that they [the Russian occupation authorities] are able to provide. Without resuming water supply through the North-Crimean canal, it is possible to predict further desertification of the northern Crimea, the further decline of the Crimean agriculture.”