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​Ukraine's Struggle to Maintain Wheat Supplies Amidst War

​Ukraine's Struggle to Maintain Wheat Supplies Amidst War

Posted by Emily on 22nd Nov 2023

In an urgent advisory, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has raised concerns about the future of Ukraine's wheat supply. The WFP cautions that continued disruptions to Black Sea export routes and ongoing attacks on food infrastructure could seriously hinder Ukraine's ability to fulfil both domestic and international wheat demands.

WFP's Ukraine director Matthew Hollingworth highlighted a worrying trend in an upcoming U.N. Human Rights Office (OHCHR) report. Since mid-July, there have been 31 documented assaults on Ukraine's grain production and export facilities, with a significant number of these occurring in the Odesa region. This area is crucial for global trade due to its proximity to the Black Sea and Danube River terminals.

Hollingworth warned the U.N. Security Council that prolonged disruptions and attacks could severely affect agricultural production over the coming years. In a worst-case scenario, Ukraine might struggle to meet its wheat production targets for both domestic and export markets.

In a contrasting statement, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia claimed that Moscow's military efforts are directed at military, not civilian, infrastructure. The United Nations has identified Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as a key factor exacerbating the global food crisis. Notably, Ukraine and Russia are significant grain exporters, with Russia being a major fertiliser supplier.

In a recent development, Russia's agriculture minister announced the commencement of free grain shipments to several African nations, as promised by President Vladimir Putin, totaling up to 200,000 tonnes.

Before the conflict, Ukraine was a major player in the global agricultural market, accounting for 9% of the world's wheat exports, 15% of maise, and 44% of sunflower oil. The U.N. is actively working to renew the Black Sea grain deal, which Russia exited in July, a year after its initiation by the United Nations and Turkey. Russia's departure from the agreement cited hindrances to its own food and fertiliser exports and concerns about the distribution of Ukrainian grain.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed that reviving the Black Sea deal will be challenging. Under this agreement, nearly 33 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain were exported. In response, Ukraine has established a temporary export corridor since August, allowing for over 700,000 metric tons of grain to be shipped from its ports through this new route.

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