(Kyiv) Ukraine has lost a quarter of its acreage due to Russian occupation of certain regions in the south and east, its agriculture ministry said on Monday, but this did not pose “a threat to the country’s food security”.
Posted at 1:19 p.m
“Despite the loss of 25% of the sown area, the structure of the crops sown this year is more than sufficient to ensure the consumption of the Ukrainian population,” Deputy Minister of Agriculture Taras Vysotskii told a conference press.
According to him, “consumption has also fallen due to the massive displacement [de population] and external migration”, out of the country.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than seven million Ukrainians are internally displaced. There are also 7.3 million who have fled abroad, more than half of them to Poland.
Despite the significant loss of land now in Russian hands, “the current structure of cultivated land […] does not pose a threat to the food security of Ukraine,” Vysotsky assured the press.
“Ukrainian farmers managed to prepare for sowing relatively well before the start of the war,” he added.
“By February, Ukraine had already imported about 70% of the necessary fertilizers, 60% of the crop protection products and about a third of the amount of fuel needed for sowing,” he said.
However, the Russian occupation of several Ukrainian regions and the grain blockade imposed by the Russian Black Sea Fleet forced Ukrainian farmers “to change what they sow and how much,” Vysotsky finally specified.
According to the World Data Center-Ukraine, an international NGO, Ukraine had more than 30 million hectares of arable land before the war.
While the consequences of the Russian invasion for Ukraine’s domestic market appear limited to Mr Vysotskiï, the impossibility of exporting the produced grain abroad raises fears of a “hurricane of famine” in the coming months, according to the UN.
“Right now, between 20 and 25 million tons of grain are blocked, and this fall that figure could rise to 70-75 million tons,” warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on June 6, whose country was the world’s fourth-biggest exporter of grain and wheat Corn before the Russian invasion.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict is at odds with two grain superpowers – Russia and Ukraine together account for 30% of world wheat exports. It caused a spike in the prices of grains and oils, prices of which exceeded the prices reached during the 2011 Arab Spring and the 2008 “food riots”.