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‘Without fuel, they cannot do it,’ says Ukraine ag official

Ukrainian farmers are woefully short of fuel ahead of the spring planting season and have lost around 10% of their land “to military effects,” such as bombing, said Dzoba Taras, the country’s deputy agriculture minister, during a webinar. “We have huge uncertainty for farmers,” said Taras, who need financing, fuel, fertilizer, and other crop inputs amid the Russian invasion.

In a survey of 2,500 farmers who operate 3.2 million hectares, the growers said they had just 20% of the fuel and between 40 and 65% of the crop inputs they need for spring planting, said Taras.

“Without fuel, they cannot do it.”

Growers also said that “about 10% of their land, they will not be able to operate on it due to military effects, either bombing or other types of impact.”

With Ukrainian ports shut down, railroads will be the only way to ship grain for export, but they can move only 300,000 tonnes a month, said Taras, speaking during a webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday. Usually, exports would total 4.5 million to 5 million tonnes in the spring, he said.

The International Grains Council sharply reduced its forecasts for Ukrainian wheat and corn on Thursday because of the war. It pegged wheat exports at 20.8 million tonnes, down by 15% from its February estimate, and corn exports at 21.7 million tonnes, down by one-third. The council, based in London, cited “great uncertainty” in projecting trade from the Black Sea region with warfare ongoing.

“While the extent of infrastructure losses is unknown, potential damage to port facilities, railroads, and storage silos could impact shipments over the longer term,” said the IGC.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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