News From Ukraine: Farmers continue to harvest... under fire

We want to take the time to check in on farmers in Ukraine. This week we have an update on harvest conditions and a first-hand account from a farmer in the war-stricken country.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

This season is unprecedented in our country. Ukrainian agribusinesses have never experienced such a situation. The harvesting campaign has been underway for quite several weeks now. Farmers have already harvested almost 40 million bushels of wheat, barley, and rapeseed. Although this number can usually easily be multiplied by three, this year, the harvest will be significantly smaller. According to analysts’ forecasts, in 2022, Ukraine can harvest about 665 million bushels of wheat from an area of 11 million acres on the territories under government control. According to data provided by NASA, 22 percent of Ukrainian agricultural land is under occupation, other parts of this are mined. Somewhere, farmers simply did not have enough funds to sow the fields. Due to the constant shelling, it is extremely difficult to extinguish such fires in the occupied territories; the Russians do not allow Ukrainians to do this. Nevertheless, the occupied Kherson region continues to actively harvest crops.

Rist Agro Head, Neroda Ruslan says, “Good day, everyone. Our harvest continues, and as you can see, it is not always very good. Yesterday, our fleet was hit by Russian missiles, cars were damaged, and people were injured, but everyone is alive and everything will be fine. We are currently harvesting winter crops, we finished harvesting barley, and we are now harvesting wheat and rapeseed as well. The yield is average, but it has never happened that we collected and did not sell our grain. After all, we are located 15 kilometers from one of the largest ports in Mykolaiv, and we always had time to export grain at this time and sell it at a good price, but today our grain storages are full. We haven’t sold any of our new crops yet. This is barley. The same warehouses are full of rapeseed and wheat. We think that this situation should improve a little because the ports in Ismail are working, and we are now concluding contracts to export grain through there. I don’t think it will be the best price because we do not have high harvests in the South, but the price was okay because it is close to the ports. I don’t know how this year will end - the prices are not pleasing. We hope that the ports will be unblocked, then we can survive, but if not, I don’t know how we will be able to sow. We may not have enough funds to finish the next season, this is our situation.”

Although it is not known yet what to do with these crops, after all, manufacturers refuse to sell them to invaders, and there is no way to export these products to unoccupied territories. Ukrainian farmers are literally harvesting under fire. The Russians are shelling the wheat fields with shells. Large-scale fires occur every day. Hundreds of acres of wheat, barley, and other grain crops have already been burned. Field protection strips and forests are also burning. According to the latest data, about 865,000 acres of fields were burnt as a result of the ongoing Russian invasion. Other problems include a shortage of diesel fuel and high prices, elevators filled with grain from the old harvest, and a lack of space for new grain.

As of July 11, Ukraine has exported 15 million bushels of grain since the beginning of the 2022-2023 marketing year. According to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, this indicator is 30 percent or 7 million bushels less than in the same period last year. In connection with the liberation of Zmiinyi Island, it was possible to restore an additional branch of export through the Bistra River mouth of the Danube River - that will help with the export of grain.

We fight for our businesses, for our fields, and for our crops. Ukrainians are doing everything possible to ensure that the grain is delivered to everyone who needs it.

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