News From Ukraine: Power outages are impacting agriculture
We want to take the time to check in on farmers in Ukraine as harvest in the country continues. Today, we are learning more about the war is causing a power crisis across Europe, and how it has destroyed the Ukrainian power grid.
Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:
This is how Ukraine’s capital and many other cities and villages look like after the shelling of energy infrastructure by Russian missiles. Rolling blackouts and candle-lit evenings are now a common occurrence for many Ukrainians. The Ministry of Energy says 30 percent of Ukraine’s power plants were destroyed as a result of these attacks, and the Russian army attacked at least half of the country’s thermal power sources. No electricity means more than just a switched-off TV or an elevator - it stops businesses and livelihoods.
So, how does this affect the agricultural sector?
Agriculture is hardly the largest consumer of electricity. Metallurgical Enterprises and Heavy Industries are among the largest users. Fertilizer producers rank as big consumers of electricity in the agriculture industry. The destruction of power substations led to an emergency shutdown of key mineral fertilizer production shops, including ammonia, nitric acid, limestone ammonium nitrate, and ammonia nitrate units. Consequently, there may be disruptions in fertilizer supplies. Generally, the agricultural sector is highly dependent on electricity. This is especially true for companies that specialize in livestock farming. Even before the war in Ukraine, there were cases when 100,000 chickens died after a power outage at one of the largest poultry farms, Agrimars.
The Executive Director of the Union of Dairy Enterprises of Ukraine describes how Ukrainian dairy processing enterprises were affected by the power outage.
“The blackout has disrupted the main production processes in processing plants, which is a sure path to rising prices and shortages of goods. Given the specifics of production, dairy plants are in the most difficult situation and need to be supported by an uninterrupted power supply, as milk processing is a systemic and continuous production process. Milk processing enterprises have already lost significant volumes of both raw milk and finished products as a result of sudden power outages.”
Valeriy Yakovenko is a co-founder of Drone UA, one of the largest manufacturers of drones for agriculture. Shortly before the war, the company entered the alternative energy business, launching the EcoFlow of portable charging stations. He says that more and more farmers are looking for opportunities to be self-sufficient in terms of energy supply.
“Already, Ukrainian farmers are looking into solutions of energy independence. In the first two months, we have received hundreds of these requests. We see that every single farmer is looking to reduce the risk for their own operations. This is critically important to spread energy independence solutions to the agriculture business nationwide, across all Ukraine.”
For their part, agribusinesses are doing their best to help the power grid handle the load and guarantee that Ukrainians have access to food. MHP, Ukraine’s largest chicken producer, provides its commercial partners with refrigerated trucks powered by electric generators to prevent the food from spoiling in retail outlets during power outages.