As Russia’s invasion continues, the harvest of grains and oilseeds in Ukraine will continue to drop this year, an industry official warned on Thursday, adding pressure to world food prices.
According to Nikolay Gorbachov, president of the Ukrainian Grain Association, planting acres will once more decline, and the overall harvest, which was 65 million tonnes last year, is predicted to be 53 million tonnes for 2023.
Before Moscow started its invasion a year ago, Ukrainian farmers had produced a record 106 million tonnes in 2021, putting it the fourth-largest exporter of corn and on track to become the third-largest exporter of wheat.
“We are at war. We are still producing grain but the harvest will be down,” Gorbachov told a Paris conference organised by Argus Media.
The fighting has resulted in fuel shortages and the destruction of agriculture equipment and storage facilities, and a one-fourth reduction in planting acreage, according to the UGA.
Russian forces had also blocked grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, sparking a surge in prices that has especially hurt developing countries.
“For farmers it became unprofitable to produce the grain and that’s why they cut the planted area,” Gorbachov said.
20 million tonnes of grain have been able to leave Ukraine thanks to a deal signed last July to open a Black Sea export corridor for grain shipments, but Gorbachov accused Russian inspectors of obstructing the process. Even the ballast water is being checked, he claimed.
He also cautioned that export levels were unlikely to get to a point where they might lower prices on the world market.
“For the national food security, that will be fine. But for exports? What if Ukraine cannot export those 40 or 50 millions? Prices will rise,” he said.
“Europe can afford it, but not developing countries.”