President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Ukraine’s harvest could be halved by the Russian invasion, in a toll that could trigger a world food crisis.
He warned of a catastrophic impact on this year’s harvest in “Europe’s breadbasket” but insisted his country was looking for an alternative way to deliver its grain.
His comments came as John Rich, chairman of MHP, Ukraine’s largest agribusiness, said a push by Ukrainian forces in the south of the country – and a consequent uptick in hostilities – could hamper the rebuilding of ports and roads needed for the Ukraine crucial are resumption of grain exports.
Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports has cut off the wheat, corn and sunflower seed giant and hampered production, leading to global shortages and soaring prices.
Mr Zelensky said on Twitter yesterday that Ukraine’s harvest is threatening to be “double” normal. He said his government’s main goal is to prevent a global food crisis and find an alternative way to deliver grain.
On Friday, he said grain shipments were ready and waiting since a United Nations-brokered pact was signed between Ukraine and Russia last month to resume exports for the first time since the war began.
But Mr Rich, an Australian manager and agribusiness advisor to the World Bank, said MHP will adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach and stockpile products.
Ukraine accounts for 12 percent of world wheat exports, 16 percent for corn and 18 percent for barley. Its exports were enough to feed up to 400 million people worldwide before the outbreak of war.
Mr. Rich estimates the wheat harvest will be 20 to 21 million tons, compared to up to 40 million last year, while corn production will fall to 27 million from 38 million tons.
Western military sources say a counteroffensive in regions in the south of the country is “gaining momentum” as the armed forces use US-supplied long-range missiles to cut them off from the rest of the Russian-held areas.
“It depends very much on the war,” said Mr. Rich. “If an area becomes militarily hotter, we could really run into significant difficulties in terms of exporting this grain.”
He added that companies trying to export grain were now storing it instead of trying to distribute it. “The right strategy for companies like us is to stock, sit and wait,” he said.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/business/world/grain-harvest-set-to-be-halved-due-to-russia-invasion-volodymyr-zelensky-warns-41880712.html The grain harvest is to be halved because of the Russian invasion, Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns