Agriculture is central to Ukraine’s economy. The nation hosts 42 million hectares of agricultural land, and it is one of the world’s largest wheat exporters. But disrupted by the turbulence of war, the country is facing a deteriorating food production industry, resulting in supply-chain shortages. With a lack of inputs—including fertilizer— needed for successful crop yields, plus labor shortages, Ukraine is struggling with food insecurity.
According to a statement the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released on Tuesday, $115.4 million in donations to the region’s agriculture industry is necessary to prevent further disruptions to the food chain supply and worsening food insecurity across the nation.
The request for funds—which would be allocated to farmers in the form of direct payments as well as agricultural necessities such as seeds and other crop inputs—is more than double the $50 million the FAO originally requested to address the growing problem. The organization anticipates that more than one-third of Ukraine’s agricultural land won’t be harvested this year after Russia’s invasion.
The organization said there is a major urgency to support farmers planting vegetables and potatoes for the spring, and that these farmers need to be supported and be able to access their fields to try and cultivate what may be left of their winter wheat harvest.
Rein Paulsen, FAO director of emergencies and resilience, said, “FAO’s immediate concern is to support the ongoing spring planting season and to prevent the disruption of the upcoming winter crop harvesting, which typically occurs in June-July, and could severely threaten food security in the country. Agriculture depends on seasons. There is no time to waste to get ready for the upcoming fall season.”
With the funds, the FAO said it will be able to support 376,660 small- to medium-sized Ukrainian farms through December of this year—totaling nearly one million people.
Along with providing resources to support immediate crop cultivation and ensure the seasonal deadlines for food production are met, the organization plans to “provide unconditional cash transfers that can support a wide range of basic needs of displaced and other vulnerable, conflict-affected households.” This money is intended to help farmers with costs such as labor, transportation, veterinary services and equipment.
Livestock holders would benefit from this plan with allocations of small livestock, feed and animal health inputs in hopes that they can meet the high demand for meat, egg and milk production.
So far, the FOA has received $8.5 million, which it will use to provide “livelihood supports” to 70,941 individuals.