Chechen farms need larger market to grow

Chechnya is struggling to restore its once renowned cattle farming industry. After years of armed conflict, the local farmers are trying to get their lives back to normal, but lack of investment and limited markets stand in their way.

Khasan Yakubov makes his life growing livestock at his family farm in the Chechen village of Shali. The Yakubovs's have a small herd and two fields where they grow food for the animals. Khasan says he dreams of expanding his agricultural business, but knows it could take a lot of money.

The Yakubovs business is rather small, compared to an average Russian farm. But for Chechnya, a Republic that's suffered from two armed conflicts in the past decade, it's impressive. Most people, especially in remote villages, are still struggling to recover from the war. Many cannot afford to transport their goods to Russia's markets, or buy spare parts for their machinery.

Chechnya is covered with hills and mountains making it unsuitable for growing wheat, like in the neighbouring Stavropol and Krasnodar regions. So rearing animals is the only means of survival.

Shali has always been famous for its cattle farms. This village on the outskirts of the Chechen capital Grozny provides meat and dairy products for the whole republic.

In the afternoon, Khasan's wife Tamara returns from the city, where she works at the local TV station. Her second job is at the family farm.

“We milk the cow in the morning and then we make our own sour cream and cheese,” Tamara shows.

On almost any day of the week, the local market is crowded as farmers come to sell their goods. Almost all of the buyers are from inside Chechnya. But that's not enough to keep the local agricultural industry growing. Like many others, the Yakubovs hope one day they'll be able to sell their beef and milk to other Russian regions.