Ukraine does not have insufficient storage capacity even for its reduced grain harvest in 2022, the United Nations World Food Program said on Tuesday, as the country struggles to export existing stocks amid Russian invasion.
Akob Kern, the World Food Program’s emergency coordinator in Ukraine, cited estimates that 20 percent of the planted area in Ukraine will not be harvested in July and that the spring planted area will be about a third smaller than usual.
Ukraine is the world’s fifth largest exporter of wheat and among the top three for corn, barley and sunflower seeds. Wheat production in 2021 was about 40 million tons, another 50 million tons for the other three commodities.
A major challenge this year is exporting existing grain stocks to provide storage capacity for the 2022 crop and to generate money to buy seeds and fertilizers for the next planting season, Kern said in a Geneva press conference via video link from Ukraine.
Kern quoted the country’s agriculture ministry as saying Ukraine used to export almost all of its grain and oilseeds — up to 6 million tons a month — through seaports now deadlocked by the conflict.
“The minister told us last week that the main concern at this stage is the lack of storage capacity for the 2022 grain harvest. An estimated 15 million tons of grain will not have room in silos across the country,” he said.
If Ukraine cannot export its current stocks, farmers may not be able to afford the harvesting costs, let alone grow next year’s crop, he added.
The shortage of Ukrainian grain in world markets has pushed up food prices around the world. The World Food Program is spending $70 million more a month to buy the same amount of food as it did last year, Kern said.
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