Sowing in the Context of Hostilities in Ukraine as a Challenge to Global Food Security

This is the second in a series from the frontlines of Russia’s war against Ukraine by Vitalii Dankevych. Read part one here. For those of you looking to help those in need, please donate to World Central Kitchen, the U.N. World Food Programme, and the Global FoodBanking Network.

Even before the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, food prices were rising significantly. In January 2022, world prices for basic foodstuffs reached record levels. And military action against Ukraine will cause a significant increase in world food prices.

Ukraine is among the top five world food exporters, so in less than a month the whole world will feel the effects of the war in Ukraine. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, Ukraine accounts for 16 percent of world corn exports (with 30 percent of corn imports to China coming from Ukraine), 12 percent of wheat exports, and 50 percent of sunflower oil exports. Interruptions in supplies from the Black Sea region will affect the overall global availability of food.

Food security in Ukraine and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, which are the main importers of food from Ukraine, depend significantly on farmers being able to plant crops on time. Currently, the most difficult spring sowing in the history of independent Ukraine is occurring. Farmers are simply not able to get into fields because they and their communities are fighting to survive. According to a survey of farmers conducted by “Mind,” the biggest problem is getting fuel into fields, followed by availability of fertilizers, seeds, plant protection products, and spare parts for equipment.

Farmers typically sow crops the third month of March, depending on weather conditions. Early spring crops, such as wheat, barley, oats, peas, canola, some vegetables are also usually growing during this time because they need moisture. In addition, for many farmers, it is also necessary to fertilize winter cereals and other crops, including wheat, rye, and rapeseed.

There is also a huge demand for labor. Many farm workers have now joined the armed forces and territorial defense. Farmers are operating without the necessary labor to get crops in the ground and also facing the threat of bombs.

Farm machinery obviously need fuel, but they also need lubricant. These are supplies that Ukrainian farmers typically would get from Russia or elsewhere. Today, Ukraine cannot buy fuel from aggressor countries. And they urgently need to find alternative suppliers.

Ports are extremely important to Ukraine. The country’s economy is highly dependent on international trade, and more than 60 percent of Ukrainian exports go through seaports. In turn, the Ukrainian economy is very open and integrated into world trade.

One of the biggest impacts of the war against Ukraine will be on the availability of artificial fertilizers and plant protection productsRussia’s invasion into Ukraine could lead to long-term disruptions in global supplies of potash and nitrogen fertilizers to crops, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The main areas for growing food crops in Ukraine directly border Russia and Belarus, and there has been fighting in recent days due to the aggression of Russia and Belarus. As a result, sowing crops in these areas is complicated or impossible.

The Ministry of Agrarian Policy has launched a platform to help sow 2022 to identify the needs of farmers for a successful start and to help close those needs. The Ministry of Agrarian Policy has taken on additional functions to coordinate the distribution of everything needed to ensure the 2022 sowing campaign.

Looking at the patriotism, perseverance, and dedication of domestic agrarians, who show themselves best on all fronts of our country’s defense against Russian aggression, we are confident that we will also win on the agrarian front.

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Photo courtesy of Olga Subach, Unsplash

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