The Pentagon now relies on a “protracted” conflict; Vladimir Putin says he will demand payment for Russian gas in rubles from Friday

With war, Ukraine’s grain harvest risks being halved

Fields are destroyed or bombed, workers go to war, logistics are ruined: a Russian invasion risks halving the cereal crop in Ukraine, essential for world food, warned Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister in an interview with AFP.

If Ukraine harvested 106 million tonnes of wheat last year, an absolute record, this year the figure would be “from 25% to 50%” lower, predicts Minister Mykola Solsky in this written interview. “And again, that is an optimistic prognosis. »

Some areas, especially in the fertile south (Kherson, Zaporozhye, Odessa, etc.) are hostile and inaccessible. Ukraine “will sow wherever possible” but only “50% to 75% territory” will be exploitable, underline Mr. Solsky.

Another problem: many farmers have “join the army or territorial defense” created a labor shortage, said Solsky, whose ministry is trying to set up a “temporary exclusion system” allow workers not to be mobilized.

Despite the war, Ukraine has already begun to sow wheat, barley, rapeseed, oats, sunflowers and soybeans, but the changing situation on the ground is forcing agriculture and authorities to improvise. “It is not yet known what crops will be planted. (…) Each farmer or farmer will make his decision based on the availability of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and fuel »explained the minister.

Ukraine has sufficient reserves to feed its own population, which before the war numbered about 40 million people.

But exports, which are important both to national income and to global food, are likely to take a hit. Ukraine exported pre-war 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural production per month through the port, but “Their blockade has de facto stop our exports”, regretted the minister. Government “work to increase capacity” exports, especially with the help of the railways, convinced the person in charge. Corn “for obvious reasons, we will not do this publicly”she says.

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