Ukraine expects 40% drop in grain harvest

REUTERS/Viacheslav Musiienko/File Photo
Storks walk next to a combine harvesting wheat in a field near the village of Zghurivka, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv region, Ukraine August 9, 2022.

KYIV (AFP-Jiji) — Ukraine estimates its grain harvest fell by around 40% year on year due to the Russian invasion, a representative for the country’s industry told AFP Friday.

“We expect a grain harvest of 65-66 million tonnes” by the end of the year, the head of the Ukrainian Grain Association Sergiy Ivashchenko said, following a record harvest of 106 million tonnes last year.

“The main reason is the war,” which immediately led to fuel shortages and hindered sowing, Ivashchenko said.

Ukraine is a major exporter but Russia’s invasion in late February stopped shipments and blocked 20 million tonnes of grain in Ukraine’s ports.

“Ports were blocked … this broke a cycle” by cutting farmers’ source of income, Ivashchenko said.

“That, and of course the war, meant farmers did not have enough money to buy fertilisers, their yield decreased,” he explained.

A landmark deal signed in July and brokered by the United Nations and Turkey established a safe shipping corridor for exports to resume.

“The occupation of several regions, fighting in the fields, and the destruction of infrastructure” still crippled production, Ivashchenko said.

“We usually sowed grains over about 25 million hectares. This year we only harvested over 18-19 million hectares,” he said.

The landmark deal was extended for 120 days in November after intense negotiations with Russia, which temporarily pulled out of the agreement.

Overall, 580 ships transporting around 15 million tonnes of cereals have left Ukrainian ports since then, according to the country’s authorities.