About one-third of Ukraine’s farmlands may not be harvested or cultivated this year as Russia begins the second phase of the conflict in the war-torn country.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) noted in a report on Tuesday that the “vast destruction of crops and infrastructure due to the war jeopardizes food production.”
FAO estimates approximately 33% of the crops and agricultural land may not be harvested because of the escalating war.
In March, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged farmers to sow as many fields as possible to protect the food supply, but that appears to be a challenging task considering the displacement of people (labor shortage), bombed-out fields, severely damaged infrastructure, and shortage of everything (diesel, seeds, & fertilizer).
Ukraine is considered the world’s second-biggest shipper of grains and the biggest exporter of sunflower oil. The planting season has already begun — its crop production is vital to the global food supply.
Even if farmers were to sow as many fields as possible, their ability to export crops would be severely impacted during the harvest season due to damaged infrastructure, such as bombed-out rail systems, highways, bridges, and ports. Also, buyers of grains can barely get dry bulk carriers insured to transit the Black Sea to a Ukrainian port because of soaring war risk premiums.
Besides FAO, some private ag forecasters have warned crop harvests could be halved.
Forecast data from ag expert UkrAgroConsult show Ukraine’s corn output could be as low as 19 million tons, about half of last year’s 41 million tons.
There’s no question in our minds the impacts of continuing war will boost global food prices to new record highs. Ukraine is a top-producing grains country and what this may spell next is a worldwide food crisis.