Tag: Ukraine

How the war is changing agriculture in Ukraine

market, food, fruits, vegetables

The war in Ukraine has already been going on for 6 months. Since its beginning, it has not only shaken people’s lives, but also disrupted the Ukraine’s systems. This RURAL21 article by Pavlo Kuliuk, Ukrainian freelance journalist from Donetsk region, Ukraine, shows how the war has changed the agricultural system in many parts of the country.

Away from supermarkets and towards local cultivation

“Before the war, supermarkets sold vegetables cheaper than market sellers. But in the contested parts of the country, the supermarkets are now closed because it is dangerous for large stores to keep open when military activities are raging close by. All too many shopping centres have become victims of attacks.”

“This is why in war zones such as the Donetsk region and parts of Mykolaiv, Zaporozhye, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk regions, vegetables and fruits represent a sort of liquid currency. For wherever logistics has collapsed, there is a paucity of goods. Therefore, at least in the summer months, greens and fruit growing in districts offer locals a great opportunity to earn additional income.”

“The dachas and gardens have been left behind by people who were evacuated. So those who have stayed grow vegetables and fruits in their gardens or harvest fruits from land that has no owner anymore. They then either sell yields or eat them themselves. Many people have also started to grow greens and fruit on fallow land.”

“Thus the war has eliminated everything that is ‘superfluous’ in the trade chains, and only essential commodities have remained in them. Paradoxically, poor local peasants and farmers have survived in difficult conditions, while the rich speculators have disappeared from the market.”

Ukrainian wheat exports resumed

“The war will also lead to a smaller wheat harvest in 2022, for it has not been possible to cultivate the fields to the same degree as that before the war. Wheat production in Ukraine is almost five times the volume of consumption. For example, last year Ukraine harvested 32 million tonnes of wheat. At the same time, the country’s domestic demand did not exceed seven million tons.”

“But it is still too early to say how things will move on. The cost of grain may rise again due to rising fuel and fertiliser prices, as well as climate change. An increase in the area under crops can restrain the rise in grain prices. Farmers must learn to work in the new conditions, when fuel and fertilisers become more expensive. Whether farmers in various countries will be able to do this is not known. This is a challenge affecting everyone.”

This article was first published by Pavlo Kuliuk, Ukrainian freelance journalist from Donetsk region, Ukraine at RURAL 21.

The war risks increasing world hunger

Crops are essential for our survival.

The war in Ukraine is sending shockwaves around the world, reports the Swedish magazine Syre. One of all the effects is sky-high wheat prices and extremely high prices for fertilizers.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, as is Russia, which is now subject to extensive sanctions. As a result of the war, the price of wheat in Chicago broke records even though the increase has now stalled. But, the world has not seen such high prices since the food crisis in 2008. At the same time, future harvests in Ukraine are threatened, when labor has to pull out of the army.

Sharply increased prices and more hunger

“There are great risks with this development, poor countries with large cities will notice sharply increased prices and we will see more hunger.”

Madeleine Fogde, Program Director of SIANI and Senior Project Manager at SEI.

Madeleine Fogde believes that it will be extra noticeable for poor countries with decades of strong urbanization behind them like Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Egypt. Countries that import large quantities of wheat from Ukraine at the same time as decades of heavy urbanization have made parts of the population particularly vulnerable, as they can no longer contribute to their own food supply.

Factors affecting food security worldwide

According to the news agency Reuters, Egypt is now investigating whether the country can change trading partners due to unsafe transport from Ukraine. The EU is one of the alternatives. But the war, sanctions, export bans and more expensive production due to higher diesel prices are not the only things that risk affecting food security worldwide.

Higher prices for fertilizer and smaller harvests

The price of fertilizer is now also rising. Russia, together with Belarus, is a giant in the global market for phosphorus and potassium – two important raw materials to produce fertilizers.

According to Madeleine Fogde, higher prices for fertilizer can be managed by Swedish farmers and consumers – although this can also lead to smaller harvests, higher food prices and that individuals are hit hard.

For this year’s growing season, most Swedish farmers have already bought fertilizer. But the Norwegian company Yara, which is one of the world’s global players in the fertilizer market, writes in a press release that there are no short-term solutions, and that one of the consequences could be that only “the privileged part of the world has access to enough food.”

Food security uncertainty is increasing worldwide

“We will see more hunger. Although many African countries cannot afford mineral fertilizers, it can be important for countries such as South Africa that produce food for the entire region.”

Madeleine Fogde, SIANI Program Director and SEI Senior Project Manager.

A similar message was given by the German Agriculture Minister Cem Oezdemir ahead of a special G7 meeting on the food situation in the world recently.

“The supply of food in Germany and the European Union is secure, but major shortages can be expected in some countries outside the EU, especially where shortages already exist due to problems such as drought,” he said in a statement.

Even before the war, UN’s ambition to eradicate hunger by 2030 was met with setbacks. Last year, the annual report from the Global Network Against Food Crisis (GNAFC) showed that food security uncertainty is increasing worldwide and that the number of people in need of emergency assistance was the highest in five years.

“The pandemic has contributed to increasing the number of hungry people,” Madeleine Fogde said.

Major UN meeting on agriculture and food security

In the long run, she hopes that the development can be turned for the better. Following a major UN meeting last year focusing on agriculture and food security, many countries have paved the way for them to be able to secure the supply of nutritious food. Plans Madeleine Fogde now hopes will become a reality, driven by the increasingly uncertain world situation.

“But the change will take time and it will be difficult,” she said. In Sweden, she hopes that the high prices of fertilizers can speed up the transition to a more circular agriculture, something that would both make agriculture less vulnerable and reduce environmental problems such as eutrophication. “I think it will drive development and innovation,” Madeleine Fogde concluded.

News article published by Syre 9 March 2022. English translation and editing by Ylva Rylander, Communications Officer at Stockholm Environment Institute for SweDev.

Ukraine war shocks food delivery says WFP

The current geopolitical situation cannot fail to have a direct impact on the humanitarian aid and supply of countries that depend on food support. As a matter of fact, the operational cost of delivering food to the world’s poor and conflict-afflicted has gone up 50% since 2019, with a sharp spike this year due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the World Food Programme said Friday.

Understanding the operational context

David Beasley, the executive director at the World Food Programme, is warning of “extraordinary conditions” in six to nine months unless other food-producing countries compensate for shortages resulting from Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine are both major food commodity suppliers for WFP — together accounting for nearly 30% of global wheat exports — and U.N. agencies are trying to purchase as much food from Ukraine’s markets as they can.


During an International Monetary Fund event Friday, David Beasley said he was worried that an inflationary price problem could soon turn into a shortage of agricultural supplies, given the agency’s huge reliance on Russia and Ukraine for these.

“The ripple effect of Ukraine is going to be substantial,” Beasley said, adding that already “we don’t have the resources to buy what we need to buy.”

“The availability of food is going to become a heck of a problem in about six to nine months,” David Beasley said. “Most people don’t realize Ukraine grows enough food to feed 400 million people, and if the agricultural leaders of the world can’t compensate fast enough, if the war doesn’t end quick enough, you are going to have extraordinary conditions,” he said.

Some of the countries most affected by the rising food prices are in Africa. The situation risks adding to already precarious situations, especially in contexts already devastated by severe droughts since the beginning of the year. These include the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, where WFP is already cutting rations.

Text adapted by the SweDev Secretariat from the original articles written by Shabtai Gold (Devex News) and Vince Chadwick. Both articles appeared in Newswire edited by Michael Igoe.