Ukrainian farmers call for sowing seeds but fear for the lives of workers

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is calling on farmers to sow as many fields as possible to protect food supplies. But some of the country’s biggest agribusinesses say some plantings won’t happen if Russia continues the war in Europe.

Zelenskiy said the country should hold a formal sowing campaign across its entire territory “to the extent possible,” Zelenskiy said in a video released on Friday. “It all depends on the person and the circumstances, because this is about life.” His country is the world’s second-largest grain carrier and the largest exporter of sunflower oil.

One of Ukraine’s largest agricultural companies, UkrLandFarming, said several of its directors were killed in Sumy, northern Ukraine and Kyiv.

UkrLandFarming lost at least 120,000 hectares (297,000 acres) of land in the Kherson, Odesa and Mykolayiv regions to Russian invasion, or about a third of their land portfolio. The company said it was forced to close three egg farms, including Europe’s largest Chornobaivka factory, near Kherson, where 3.1 million laying hens are dying.

“We continue to produce eggs and milk and are preparing for the sowing season in areas where the situation is more or less stable,” said company spokesman Yevgeny Manzhenko from Kyiv, where he is serving in Ukrainian army defends the city. “We realize that the seeding campaign, which is so important today, is in danger of being disrupted.”

IMC SA, another agricultural company, wants to continue operating but does not allow workers to enter many fields because of concerns about their safety, CEO Alex Lissitsa said Friday in a statement. interview. The lands owned by the company, among the 10 largest agricultural enterprises in Ukraine, are concentrated in the north, where Russian troops are occupying villages. Bridges and roads are damaged and roads are exploited, they said, adding that barriers to sowing are usually put in place by mid-May.

“Poltava hopes to be planted, but other fields don’t, because I’m just afraid to send my people,” said Lissitsa, naming an area east of Kyiv. “We wish that the war would end soon, and then we would prepare something and try to plant everywhere. But honestly, no one knows.”

The company grows grains and oilseeds on approximately 120,000 hectares, and produces milk from its dairy herd.

Ukraine’s agricultural sector is one of the largest in the world and sells a lot of grain and vegetable oils throughout Asia, Europe and Africa. Russia invaded at a critical time for field investigation, endangering Ukraine’s food system and global supply chains.

Farmers are pushing forward wherever possible. MHP SE, another large agribusiness, says 50,000 hectares of its land is being occupied by Russian artillery, but it plans to sow the rest in two weeks if nothing changes.

“What I’m saying to the international community is that while the market tends to wipe everything out in Ukraine, that’s technically not correct, as far as the larger operators are concerned.” MHP executive chairman John Rich said in an interview from Slovenia.

The United Nations estimates that 20% to 30% of the fields normally used for winter cereals, corn and sunflower seeds will not be planted or harvested for the next 2022 crop. Lissitsa of IMC, a member of the board of the Ukrainian Agricultural Enterprise Club, said summer crops such as corn could be more severely affected, with only about half of the normal planting area due to traffic. competition and logistics were cut off.

IMC normally produces about 700,000 tons of corn and 130,000 tons of wheat for export. For now, they are focused on securing domestic stocks and helping the government navigate deliveries of children’s food and other essentials, Lissitsa said.

It also operates a dairy facility, and staff are unable to provide feed or veterinary services to barns with about 1,000 cows. On Thursday, there was a power outage, cutting off power to the milking machines.

The cows “have something to eat, but not much and just silage,” Lissitsa said. “It was a really tough time.”

He said a dairy farmer he knew near Kharkiv had his premises bombed and the animals ran across the fields. The situation is better in the west, where he is currently near Lviv.

But even there, fuel supplies and workers are in short supply.

(Updated with comment from UkrLandFarming from second paragraph)

Bloomberg. Ukrainian farmers call for sowing seeds but fear for the lives of workers

Fry Electronics Team

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