The ongoing Russian invasion has Ukrainian farmers preparing for a “hell” harvest season as physical dangers and financial conditions are certain to have a devastating effect on transporting and selling crops. Ukraine is the fourth-largest exporter of grain in the world.
Supply chain shortages and increasing demand have food prices surging worldwide and the disruption of the Ukrainian market is an indication of greater shortages in the coming months. With tens of millions of tons of grain stuck inside Ukraine, Western nations are accusing Moscow of deliberately creating a global food crisis.
Farmers in Ukraine are having great difficulty in moving their harvest into the market at all. Many traders are apprehensive about buying grain that is in danger of being destroyed or stolen before it can be shipped. Many agricultural suppliers have decided against deploying harvesting equipment out of similar concerns over damage and theft.
Producers globally are meanwhile facing rapidly increasing inflation of fuel and fertilizer prices, threatening agricultural production far from the Ukrainian war zone.
Ukrainian problems go beyond just the production and selling of crops. Even if a buyer can get produce moved to a port, Russian forces deployed in the Black Sea have made all shipping difficult or impossible. Artillery shelling has also rendered much of the equipment needed to load grain into ships inoperable.
Overland transportation is financially impractical because of infrastructure weakness or unavailability.
Ukrainian officials have established an export overland route through Poland, although it has been slowed by bottlenecks. Ukrainian agricultural officials are now exploring the possibility of building out facilities near the border with Romania as a means of using river transportation to move grain stores out to the international market.
The stifled supply is already impacting African nations. The World Food Programme announced this week that it is discontinuing services to almost two million people in South Sudan because of supply and funding issues.
A spokesman for the group said the cut is drastic but it “had to do a kind of triage.” The group said that cuts are being made not because the Sudanese are not in need, but “because they can survive.”