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August 26, 2022
The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has pledged to increase its support for the farmers of Ukraine.
FAO has been present in Ukraine since 2003. Since 2015, it has focused its activities on development projects and emergency support. This emergency support function is being upgraded due to complications arising from the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
The organization has updated its Rapid Response Plan to call for additional funding. The goal is to provide $115.4 million to support to roughly 980,000 small farmers and medium-sized producers in Ukraine through December 2022. Countries and organizations that have already pledged their support include Japan (whose contributions to the fund total over $20 million), Australia, Belgium, France, the European Union and USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).
Ukraine is a top five grain exporter globally. In 2021, 36 out of 55 countries with food crises depended on Ukrainian and Russian exports for more than 10% of their total wheat imports. Some countries imported almost all their wheat from Ukraine and the Russian Federation. These wheat exports have been drastically reduced in recent months due to the conflict.
Almost 20% less land is being cultivated for spring crops in Ukraine than last year and a lack of available fuel is affecting the harvest of winter crops. Twenty-five percent of crop producers lack the crop protection products they need, and the price of these protection agents—as well as seeds, fertilizers and fuel–have increased by an average of 40% to 45%.
The total storage capacity in Ukraine is down by almost 15 million tons due to conflict on the country’s land–a 20% decrease. According to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, total grain exports have been down over 80% every month since March. Ukraine is expected to harvest a total of 60 million tons of grain this season, but lack of storage and lack of available transportation for export means that these grains will not be able to be exported to countries in need.
The loss of production, storage and export capability in Ukraine endangers not only the livelihood of Ukrainian farmers and food producers, but also the well-being of countries that rely on crops from Ukraine and Russia.
“Within the new Japan-funded project, FAO will address storage deficit by providing the polyethylene grain sleeves, grain loading, and unloading machinery to the smallholders and a variety of modular storage containers to the medium-sized producers and associations. Support will be provided to the farmers from 10 oblasts of Ukraine: in the east, center, south and north of the country,” said Pierre Vauthier, head of FAO Ukraine Country Office.
FAO’s emergency agricultural support is distributed in multiple forms, including distribution of seed potatoes, vegetables, seeds and multi-purpose cash assistance. By June 29, this assistance had already been provided to 75,000 Ukrainian people, with a plan to reach an additional 44,000 people in the coming months.
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