Life as a Ukrainian agronomist

Anatoliy Volkanov, chief agronomist at the Balkany Farming Company in Southern Odessa, Ukraine, talks to journalist Olena Ninua of Agroexpert

O.N: What does your family think about your work as an agronomist?

А. V: I get real support from my family. At some points in the year I almost live in the field and I often leave before the kids are awake in the morning and return when they have gone to bed. It might seem like a job that is not complicated – visiting fields and checking everything is fine – but, in reality, there is something new every day that needs my immediate attention. I don’t want my 11-year-old son to become an agronomist unless he’s very passionate about it. I love my job but it’s very hard work. You really need to be born an agronomist.


O.N: How do you manage your colleagues?

А. V: By nature, I could be described as tough, but I hope I’m also fair. I try to pay as much attention to the people I work with as possible. It’s very important for a manager to earn the respect of colleagues, who are the most important resource of the business. If employees understand that they will be motivated. From my colleagues I need professionalism, dedication, responsibility, honesty, integrity. Without those attributes we will not be able to work.

Anatoliy Volkanov
Anatoliy Volkanov

O.N: Do You have hobbies?

А. V: I wouldn’t describe football as a hobby, but the passion of my life! I’ve played football all my life, reaching a semi-professional standard and only hanging up my boots five years ago and I’ll still play games with friends. Although I’m a fan of Barcelona and Manchester United, I’m most fond of my local club – Balkany. The farm supports the club, which is the only village team to play in the Ukrainian Championship – the next step is the major premiership league. We like to develop our own players and train around 100 kids from the age of eight years.


O.N: What advice would give to a young farmer?

А. V: The best is to learn from someone else’s experience and if you can get some training abroad. Chat with specialists in the area you want to focus on, understand what you want to grow and what you need to achieve that goal. These days you also need to be familiar with, and, embrace new technology.