“A good master is one who cares not only for himself, but he is one who is also responsible for the land you cultivate and for the crane in which you live“
In the triangle “state – business – village” everyone has to trust each other. How could we make the smallest and most important unit of this triangle (the village) “to live”? And can Ukraine be considered a powerful agro-industrial state? Today we are talking with Vasyl Kyrychenko, a person who is recognized at the state level for making a significant personal contribution to the organization and ensuring the highest performance in agricultural production, CEO of the agricultural company Svitoch LTD.
What does home land mean for you as for an agricultural worker? What exactly do you put into this word?
The Ukrainian land, on which more than one generation of farmers grew up, paved the historical path of development of industrial relations on it. Only the land can feel every word you trust, all the bitterness of life, all your sadness and sorrow, all anxiety, disappointment and anger, at the same time allows you to be cleansed of evil and unjust thoughts and feelings that comes in an hour of spiritual confusion, and thus by strengthening the self-defense reflexes, finding the right way to continue to live and create. You are most aware of and understand this when more than ten years of life and work remain on the blessed Ukrainian land in the past.
I believe that land should be an object of work, not speculation. It is good that there are people in Poltava who can appreciate and multiply glorious traditions. People that do their work tirelessly, not with the noise and with the destruction of monuments, people that love their land, their country.
I am convinced that the policy of the state should be determined by the people of labor in all fields: industry, agriculture, medicine, education… They are shaping the present and the future. They should be appreciated, respected, thanked and listened to when making responsible decisions. They should take care of them and ask them in which direction the state should move. I want to be one of those who works, creates wealth, pays taxes. We need to build a prosperous, rich Ukraine by ourselves.
What is the current state of the Ukrainian agricultural sector? How does it respond to the challenges of today?
We see that the world has been changing as well as the market conditions themselves, we see the changes in the technology at the agricultural business, and we see that the generations have been changing. The business does respond to these changes. We are now focusing on openness in communication, intergenerational interaction. Agricultural businesses are considered traditionally conservative with a rigid hierarchy. But the agricultural sector is changing with the world, understanding that to manage change and to create solutions products and solutions is impossible without a space where value is shown by the professional talents and interests of people who are simply interested in working.
If we think about the consequences of our reform of land relations, we are clearly in a hurry to cut the land into shreds. We must put our hand on our heart and acknowledge our mistakes sincerely. Ukraine had perhaps the best land and agriculture systems and village administrative system. We have unique land resources! The land should be the object of income from its labor, not the object of speculation. By transferring the land into private property, we did not increase the motivational work on it.
“There is no one to work in the fields”, “everyone has gone abroad”, “there are no qualified specialists in the countryside” – these theses are heard daily at various business meetings. Another hundred years ago, about 80% of the population lived in Ukrainian villages. Today, the situation has changed dramatically – the number of rural residents is steadily declining. And it is not just urbanization that is gaining ground. More than a dozen villages disappear from the map of Ukraine every year. Most of the time, the village is left by able-bodied youth in search of work and a better life. There is almost no development of rural infrastructure; a number of economic, social and environmental problems are forcing people to leave their homes forever.
As the CEO of a powerful agrarian enterprise, how do you solve the HR problem?
As the CEO, I am trying to improve this situation, because the production facilities of my enterprise are located in rural areas.
It is important for us to model the career paths of young people and help them make informed choices. Now, not much attention is paid to the choice of professions and even less to the promotion of agrarian specialties. Our educational system does not take into account career guidance. That is why we have partially taken over this function in the region where we work. We, as agribusinesses, have to change the image of agriculture-related professions on our own, to show how technological and in demand they are today.
You need to change your attitude to living and working in the village. The proof that this can be promising and profitable is the development and organization of our Svitoch Company. But the stereotype that there is no high-paying and promising job for rural youth still works. Although, the overall infrastructure in rural areas often does not meet the current standards that attract the young professionals.
That is why our company joins in creating of a new, more attractive one image of the rural area.
We help for the communities to develop the social infrastructure: schools, kindergartens, recreation facilities and playgrounds. We are also involved in large-scale things such as the laying of the water pipes and the repairing of the roads.
Formal employment and competitive salary are those things that must be. But in equal importance is the environment in which our employees live and work. Whilst investing in the development of production, we simultaneously care for the rationality and comfort of space – both of the domestic, of the industrial or office one. I mean the modern equipped workplace, sanitary and hygienic conditions and safety, food for workers in the production facilities and health care, of course.
Together with my wife Tatiana Yaroslavivna, we started the competition named as My Village: Steps to Development. Thus we have been supporting and have been retaining youth in the province. A person should work where he or she lives. In addition to decent pay, I do my best to keep up the high cultural and educational vector.
From whom did you inherit such a persistent nature and willpower?
My parents always lived only for their own work. My mother was a respected teacher, and my father was a leading combiner. In due time, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine personally presented the Order for the good farmering for him. My father’s genes won – I got an agricultural education. We did not live well, but my family raised me not in stinginess. I do not have any complains about my life – everything is as it should be. But since then, mother’s compassion and care for the unhappy people have been formed, paternal empathy and assistance for the poor ones, and grandfather’s love for children. And it’s has rooted down so deeply my heart that I want to create good conditions for all people I work with. And although not all of them are grateful for this, not all of them can be brought up or re-educated, I have never regretted that I treated them in paternal way. Who knows how to appreciate – would do it. I am a peasant myself, I work on the land and cherish it, but in my opinion, the greatest wealth of the state is the people and the land, to protect them is a sacred duty. After all, the attitude of the state to the peasant was unfair, and even now, when calculating pensions, it remains so. I have lived my life through honestly and I’m not afraid to speak the truth. And, you know, I value every minute so as not to waste, having time to do what is planned and to keep myself in tune.