News From Ukraine: How is Russia’s attack on energy affecting harvest?

We want to take the time to check in on farmers in Ukraine amid the ongoing war in the country. Today we are learning about how Russia’s attacks on energy and the “war economy mode” are affecting harvest.

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

As of December 1st, the grain harvest in Ukraine totaled 1.5 billion bushels. This volume represents almost half of the previous year’s record crop.

Why has the pace of harvesting slowed down? Prolonged rains have made the moisture content of grain, in particular corn, very high. After russian attacks on energy infrastructure, granaries in Ukraine are operating unstably. Power supply is only available for a few hours a day throughout the country. On top of that, the war economy mode has been implemented.

Many businessmen use diesel generators to cope with this challenge. AGR is among such agricultural holdings.

“Many grain storages that we work with are solely powered down and have stopped receiving grain. Diesel generators are, I believe, the way out, at least for our elevator. I mean, we have storage capacity, but we do not receive third-party grain.”

AGR equipped two of the three elevators with diesel generators. Thus, the cost of drying 1% of corn moisture content has doubled.

Most regions of Ukraine have already been covered with snow, which complicates the harvesting. Currently, 40% of corn remains in the fields. Farmers expect that the frost will reduce the moisture content of corn from 22-28% to an acceptable 16-20%. Many farmers will leave corn for wintering, either for inability to dry it or for lack of storage capacity. After all, not all farmers have warehouses. However, large enterprises stick to other strategies.

“I am not considering this option. We will harvest till the last cob. 49 thousand acres of corn at the harvesting pace we currently have means 40 days. It is too much. If we stop now and postpone harvesting to spring, we will lose the time needed for field work.”

The businessman says that they considered alternative options, but these appeared impractical.

“I can plant sunflower in June, but then there will be no wheat next year. This will disrupt the entire budget and the company’s cropping plan.”

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.