News Alert: Conflict destroys Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure ahead of critical summer harvest season – Ukraine
The war in Ukraine and its effects on export capacity, fuel and fertilizer shortages, as well as landmine contamination, have ravaged agricultural systems and sent shock waves through global markets. Global food prices hit their highest level ever in March and could rise by up to 20% this year, pushing up to 13 million more people into hunger.
Mike Young, Mercy Corps Ukraine Response Director, says:
“The destruction of infrastructure, the closure of borders with Russia and Belarus, the blocking of seaports, mass migration, reduced purchasing power, contamination by mines and the disruption of the agricultural planting season have halved the Ukrainian market.
“Every day that the fighting continues, the humanitarian situation worsens, bringing with it new threats and exacerbating existing ones.”
Important obstacles to the recovery of agriculture
Across Ukraine, the prices of seeds, crop protection agents, fertilizers and fuel have increased by an average of 35-45%. According to FEWSNET, agricultural production in Ukraine — both winter and spring crops — could decline by 25 to 50 percent or more.
In addition to soaring prices of seeds and other agricultural inputs and limited availability with the closure of suppliers, farmers are faced with the loss of nursery stock planted in January and February and insufficient access to the supply of water in areas without electricity.
Almost a quarter of the population of Chernihiv Oblast, 17% of Sumy Oblast and 9% of Kyiv Oblast work in the agricultural sector. Chernihiv and Sumy produce cash crops, mainly maize and wheat. As of April 20, only 210 km2 had been cultivated out of a forecast of 7,000 km2 in Chernihiv Oblast, compared to 10,000 km2 last year.
Ukraine still has to export 20 million tonnes of last year’s crops, with the new winter harvest in June-July. Unable to sell last year’s crops, farmers do not have enough financial resources to invest in the new season and replace damaged equipment. The destruction of the railways will further limit export capacity.
Mine contamination poses a significant risk to aid and agricultural efforts
Landmine contamination poses a significant risk to the delivery of humanitarian aid and the resumption of agricultural activities. Half of the country’s territory must be demined.
Mine-contaminated forests and pastures can significantly affect the livelihoods of rural communities. Agricultural land is not a top priority for clearance, so agricultural activities may be hampered. Farmers may need to fund clearance activities on their land – money that many small and medium-sized businesses will not be able to get funds for.
*Mercy Corps is on the ground in Ukraine, Romania and Poland, currently funding local organizations that know best the needs of their community and providing assistance to Ukrainians inside the country as well as those who have had to cross borders to neighboring countries. The local organizations we support distribute items such as medical supplies and basic foodstuffs, including in eastern Ukraine. **By the end of 2022, Mercy Corps and partners aim to reach at least 500,000 vulnerable Ukrainians and others in the war-affected region with life-saving humanitarian assistance.*