The potatoes fall from the sky | Polarjournal
Extraordinary delivery of food – potatoes are dropped from a plane and land by parachute in remote villages in Yakutia. (Photo: News.Ykt.Ru)

Every inhabitant of the Russian Republic of Yakutia knows what “northern delivery” is and what problems occur with it every year in Yakutia. At the end of last year, the editorial staff of News.Ykt.Ru published a series of reports about how the residents of remote villages of the Allaichovsky Ulus district had to live for a year almost without fresh food. The current situation with autumn import of vegetables is quite tense, Arctic residents told news platform News.Ykt.Ru.

The village of Chkalov is far from any civilization and is desperately dependent on government-subsidized food supplies. Delivery across the river was no longer possible. (Photo: News.Ykt.Ru)

The other day a barge arrived in Chokurdy with potatoes, onions, carrots and other goods. The transported products were to be distributed to the settlements of the district, in particular to the remote villages of Olenegorsk, Russkoye Ustye, Nychal and Chkalov. However, due to the deterioration of the situation on the Indigirka River, it was no longer possible to transport the perishable cargo by water.

The vegetables and fruit arrived intact and are now in storage. (Photo: News.Ykt.Ru)

Delivery problems have been known for years

“The problem with the delivery of vegetables and fruits has existed for several years,” said Galina Krivoshapkina, the head of Olenegorsk village. “This spring, a representative from Yakutopttorg, the state-owned company that supplies food to hard-to-reach settlements, came to us. He said that the company would solve the problems with the deliveries itself. Now we’ve learned that the vegetables will be flown to us on an An-2 aircraft.”

She further explains, “But due to the lack of a runway in Olenegorsk, we were offered to drop food by parachute. At first we thought they were joking because a gust of wind might blow the cargo into the woods or the cargo would be crushed on landing. Then the vegetables lose their appeal or turn completely into “mush.””

The Allaichovsky Ulus district is located in the very east of Russia, on the coast to the Arctic Ocean. (Graphic: Heiner Kubny)

More than four tons of vegetables are to be delivered to Olenegorsk alone at the request of local residents. Another delivery of vegetables is also expected in the village of Chkalov. According to the head Alexei Nikolaev, the administration has already prepared a place for dropping and landing of goods.

“This method of care is unusual, of course, but I agree with it. I am a former airman myself and know how everything works. Previously, food and equipment for geological expeditions were also imported. Of course, it would be more convenient if a helicopter brought everything at once. But what can we do? We have prepared the landing site and are waiting for the plane. I agree with any kind of transport, the main thing is to bring quality products for people,” says the head of Chkalov.

According to the head of the Allaikhovsky Ulus district, Yakov Eliseev, there have never been landing sites for aircraft in remote villages.

“Deliveries were always made by Mi-8 helicopters, which in principle do not need a runway. Planes came only in winter. Instead of landing gear, they had skis, and the landing was always on frozen lakes,” said Yakov Eliseev.

Despite the difficult delivery conditions, food prices are within normal limits, says the head of the district Allaikhovsky Ulus. A kilogram of potatoes costs 80 rubles, onions 75 and so on. The price reduction is due to the subsidization of transport by the Government of the Republic.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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