A third of fields in occupied areas, hostile zones will not be planted, says Ukrainian ag journalist
The seeding season in Ukraine has started. The main question is how well positioned are producers to plant. The answer is not that simple. There are big producers who lost up to 90% of their producing area due to Russian occupation or because of proximity to hostilities, especially in East and Southeast Ukraine. In general, the first balanced estimates of spring sowing show that up to one third of Ukrainian fields in the occupied areas or hostile zones will be unsown.
There are also producers whose areas are sufficiently far from the lines of war and can be tilled provided that these producers have sufficient inputs, mainly fuel, seed, and fertilizers. While the shortage of seed and fertilizer may be easily resolved when necessary through imports and domestic production, the situation with fuel is more complicated.
The restrictions on exports and issues with seed also are driving producers to change their production plans. It is expected that this year the areas in Ukraine that planted corn and sunflowers will be replaced with wheat and buckwheat (which is the most popular cereal in Ukraine). Considering the sharp increase in demand for grain on the international markets and the restricted capacity of the railroad, this introduces the possibility to increase the export of flour instead of grain. So the situation is not as gloomy as it may look.
Before the war, Ukraine imported half of its oil and produced the other half in country. The total annual volume of crude oil available was about 3 million tons. Of the 1.5 million tons of imported oil, 70% was supplied by Russia and Belarus. For now, this channel is cut off. Another 30% of oil and its derivatives were imported from the countries of Azerbaijan, Algeria, and Libya. Due to mining by Russia of the Black Sea waterways to/from Ukraine, it is impossible to import oil by sea, so essentially Ukraine has to rely on its own oil supply to get by.
Is there a possibility to increase the domestic production of oil? Theoretically, there is. There are oil fields in Eastern and Western Ukraine. The oil fields in Eastern Ukraine are close to the front lines, so they may be the targets of ground and/or air attacks. So this is risky. While the oil fields in Western Ukraine are depleted, some extraction increase is possible.
However, all these measures will not cover the loss of the Russian and Belarus oil.
Recently, the Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Taras Vysotsky, announced that Ukraine has enough sugar reserves for 1.5 years, corn for 2 years, and sunflower oil for 5 years. These stocks are being kept for the domestic consumption by the population.
There are large stocks of unexported commodities like corn, sunflower seeds and oil, and soybeans. It is impossible to export commodities by sea, and railway restrictions only allow the export of 10% of the previous year’s volumes. It is possible to expand the production of biofuels as substitutes for the mineral ones thus replenishing the supply of fuel for farmers and the army, though it may require some improvements to equipment.
Early this morning, the Mykolaiv seaport infrastructure suffered a lot of damage as a result of a Russian air strike.
Ukraine is now fighting for her very existence with the vile and savage Russian beast. This fight has already drastically influenced the international energy and food markets. It is in everybody’s interest to put an end to this fight and return to normal life in the speediest way possible. Since the Russian beast, at the moment, shows no sign to stop its aggression, the best way for the international community to interfere is to back up Ukraine in her deadly fight.
Editor’s Note: Iurii Mykhailov is a Ukrainian economist and agricultural journalist who’s been reporting from Kyiv on the war between Russia and his country for Successful Farming.