Ukraine has lost at least $1 billion worth of wheat harvested in Russian-controlled areas, according to research using satellite imagery from NASA’s Food Security and Agriculture Program.
The analysis gives an idea of what is happening in occupied territories, where information is tightly controlled. It uses a machine learning model that detects texture and color changes based on a time series of satellite imagery to map where crops have or have not been harvested.
Nearly 6 million tons of wheat were collected from areas not under Ukrainian control, according to NASA Harvest. About 88% of winter crops grown in occupied territories were harvested, while unharvested areas were mainly along the front line.
The research raises the question of what is happening to these plants. Russian ships may have exported grain from occupied territories to countries like Libya and Iran, but it’s difficult to estimate the amounts involved because shippers obscure the origins of the cargoes. Russia has denied stealing grain, but officials have publicly touted resuming grain shipments from occupied ports.
Ukraine is a major wheat exporter and the blockade of its ports following the Russian invasion has sent prices skyrocketing, potentially making grain smuggling more lucrative. A deal that allowed Ukraine to resume exports helped bring grain prices down, but they still remain at historically high levels.
Almost a quarter of Ukraine’s wheat is grown on land reportedly annexed by Russia, although part of that territory is controlled by Ukraine. NASA Harvest estimates are for wheat and so far exclude other crops or foods that have been stored. The results do not provide any information about what happened to the plants after harvest.
The NASA harvest team has calculated that farmers in Ukraine harvested 26.6 million tons of wheat this year, several million tons more than other leading forecasts.
The top prosecutor of Switzerland – a leading commodity trading hub – has warned that commercializing looted commodities could constitute a war crime.
Major Ukrainian grower HarvEast said that all the winter crops he grew on his land in the Donetsk region were collected by occupying forces this summer.
“This year, winter wheat has given a very high yield for this region due to favorable weather conditions,” said Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Skornyakov. “Everything harvested in our fields was stolen and exported from Ukraine.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/farming-news/russia-reaped-1-billion-of-wheat-in-occupied-ukraine-nasa-says-42195469.html Russia has harvested $1 billion of wheat in occupied Ukraine, NASA says