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Greenhouse builder in Ukraine: "I feel right at home here and I want to keep it that way"

Arno Volkering lives in Ukraine and works for Kubo. Before Russia invaded Ukraine, he was very busy recently with greenhouse horticulture in China. "In Ukraine itself, greenhouse horticulture is not that big. In the surrounding areas, more so. Poland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and especially China are making great strides to meet the demand for fresh produce. Growing in a greenhouse is becoming increasingly important in these regions," he tells us.

Arno (right) at a transport with relief goods

Arno was just about to leave for China again when the war started. The war (and COVID in China) has put travelling on the back burner for a while. But Arno is not sitting still. Anything but.

"The social cohesion is heart-warming", says Arno from his home in Ukraine, "Ukrainians help each other wherever possible". In very concrete terms, it means that in the village where he lives, for example, 75 refugees are temporarily accommodated among a population of 150.

Arno lives at a two hour drive from the Romanian border. Most refugees are helped to cross this border. A smaller number from his hometown flee via Hungary or Poland.

Besides housing refugees, next week he will receive the third truck of aid goods from Westland. From Monster, Nathalie van den Ende of Kubo coordinates the relief goods that are brought to Arno's village in large trucks. Villagers are ready to help him unload and sort and distribute the goods. "It is a special time. Everyone is happy to do something for fellow countrymen. Everyone does what he or she can do."

Help from the Netherlands
Is it easy for the truck driver to enter Ukraine? Nathalie: "Arranging the necessary paperwork is quite difficult. It does not happen by itself. The papers are arranged in Ukraine. Arno's wife speaks Ukrainian and that makes the process a lot easier. Thanks to these preparations, the lorries can cross the border reasonably easily.

The collection of all those relief goods is tightly managed from the Netherlands. Nathalie: "We still like to receive comfortable clothing (such as jogging suits), hygiene materials, nappies, baby food, walkers, bulletproof vests, etc. Stuff has to be whole and clean anyway. Otherwise we sort them out."

She is happy with the sponsors she helps to bring about these aid convoys, such as Zijtwende, Royal Brinkman and PDI. Pure Flower and Keitje Bloemiststylist even set up a campaign; proceeds were €6300. "That is absolutely wonderful," smiles Nathalie.

Many hands make light work

Life goes on
Arno and his villagers do a lot of work. In the meantime, normal life in Ukraine also goes on; they are planting, sowing, harvesting and preparing supplies to get through the winter. In the area where he lives, the war is not present. The country is large. It isn't taking place directly in his village.

"Life just goes on here," as this down-to-earth Westlander puts it into perspective. "Let's hope it's over soon and Ukraine can start building back this fantastic country. I feel right at home here and I want to keep it that way. Nobody wants the Russians here."

The Ukrainian people would like to return to normal as soon as possible. And so does Arno. He longs for the day when he can resume his travel plans to China. There is much to do there. The Chinese are desperate for high-tech greenhouses. Kubo has already built more than 120 ha there. And those are large areas. Kubo is mainly building Ultra-Clima greenhouses there. The climate is very suitable for this because there is about a 20-degree difference between day and night temperature. Arno: "Production is good. These greenhouses are mainly used for cherry tomatoes. The Chinese love them," he laughs.

For more information:
Nathalie van den Ende
+31 621 293 168 

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