kusto group

Member Article

Kusto Group Leading the Way in Environmentally Friendly Investment Practices

The Kusto Group is expanding its livestock business in the Ukraine by building a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly and animal-friendly dairy farm. This initiative follows a pattern worldwide of socially aware global companies recognizing the need to put the environment ahead of all else.

The initiative, carried out by Veltse Ltd., which is part of Kusto Agro, is a commercial dairy farm in the village of Lypne, in the Lyubarsky district of the Zhitomir region of Ukraine. It represents an $8 million investment in the region.

A number of leading companies are “going green”, including IKEA with a total commitment to sustainability both in front-end consumer goods and in practices behind the scenes. The company sources 50 per cent of its wood from sustainable foresters and 100 per cent of its cotton from farms that meet the Better Cotton standards, which mandate reduced use of water, energy and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. In addition, stores are powered by solar panels. Indeed, IKEA has upped the stakes and has vowed to become an energy exporter in the near future.

Unilever, with its company’s Sustainable Living Plan, sets targets for sourcing, supply chain and production on everything from energy and water use to treatment of suppliers and communities where they operate. When taking account of the size and scope of Unilever’s operations, their commitment is truly staggering. In addition, they set themselves goals that appear unattainable such as doubling their company’s business in ten years while at the same time halving their environmental impact!

The outdoor clothing supplier, Patagonia, is another example. Its total commitment to the environment might risk profitability, yet it positions itself among the leaders when it comes to sustainability. Their unorthodox measures include encouraging their customers to think twice before buying new clothing and they even initiated a program to repair used products! This commitment is obviously paying off as loyal and new customers have ensured the company has continued to grow in sales and profits.

The Kusto Group’s project demonstrates commitment to the environment, to animal welfare, and to the local population. It is planned in two stages, with the first stage scheduled to be completed by July 2019. Three facilities will be built including a 600-head barn for milk cows, a milking facility, and a facility for temporarily housing non-milking cows and heifers with birthing and quarantine sections. Planned milk yield should be reached by the end of December 2019. By that time, the company will have created 50 jobs for local workers.

The second stage of the project includes the construction of another 600-head barn for milk cows. The completion of construction is tentatively scheduled for November 2020. Planned milk yield should be reached by the end of April 2021.

What sets this project apart from other farms in the area is its commitment to the environment and to animal welfare. The cows will be allowed to roam free most of the time instead of being kept in small enclosures. They will graze on fresh grass in the spring and summer, and in the winter months, when their diet consists of dried feed, they will still be allowed the freedom of large fields.

The project is being built in contrast to many modern dairy farms, where intensive farming has led to hundreds of cows kept in closed barns, in relative captivity, with little or no room to move and a steady year-round diet of dried feed. Attention was brought to the plight of dairy herds when, in 2010, the animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming turned its attention to zero grazed cow farms in the UK and initiated a campaign with the slogan ‘Cows Belong in Fields’. Concern over the plight of dairy herds highlighted the conditions in which cows were being kept and milk produced. A call was made to label milk and dairy products so that consumers could choose to purchase milk that was produced from so called “free-range cows,” or cows that spent a considerable time free to graze naturally. Unfortunately, to date, standards have yet to be universally agreed on to label milk produce.

Recent studies have shown that granting cows the freedom of open fields and natural grazing can in fact dramatically improve the quality of the milk. It lowers the chances of disease and uses less manpower. The environmental impact of this form of farming is much friendlier, not to mention that animals themselves lead a more natural life. Furthermore, even though the herd consists of 600 cows, the lack of crowding means that disease and illnesse are less likely to spread.

Initiatives like this are a welcome breath of fresh air in a cynical world of global conglomerates and cash-hungry corporations. They highlight the potential for good that multinational companies can bring, especially to smaller, poorer communities. Projects such as Kusto’s dairy farm can be a catalyst for change and innovation, educating and highlighting by example to local communities, and leading the way for eco-friendly reform that not only benefits the environment but also make clear economic sense.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Sherrie Campbell .

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