18 May 2014, 00:17

A food crisis brewing in Ukraine

A food crisis brewing in Ukraine

A recent report published by Ukrainian Agribusiness Club claims the crisis-hit country will experience a fall of up 10% in spring sowings. However, official figure s don't jive with the facts on the ground and are likely to be overly optimistic. Ukraine may be heading for a fully fledged food crisis.

Ukraine used to be an important grain exporter, but the ongoing civil war, coupled with a falling economy have thrown the country's agricultural sector into disar r ay. Although official figures show a mere 10% drop in planted acreage and Ukraine's Ministry of Agriculture still expects the spring sowings to end up at 8.3 m illion hectares, sources from Ukrainian farming communit y believe that such figure are “unrealistic”. Since the US-sponsored political parties came to power via a violent coup, the price s for agrochemicals and fertilizers rose by more than 30%, while the price for diesel fuel rose by 50%.

Adding to the farmers' problems, Ukrainian banks pulled the plug on their credit lines extended to local producers. Ukraine's agricultural sector is very dependent on credit financing and can't finance itsel f. Right now, farmers are cash-strapped and can't organize sowings so, it is hard to believe that statistics published by the Kiev officials are real. Most likely, the situation is much worse and authorities are doing their best to conceal the truth in order to avoid widespread panic.

Ukrainian social networks are abuzz with stories about empty fields, lack of fuel, desperate farmers and crops dying due to unusually cold weather that struck western and central regions of the country. The situation shows no signs of improvement and it has all the marking of a humanitarian crisis in the making. Sadly, neither the government in Kiev nor its sponsors in Washington have a plan of dealing with a crisis of such magnitude. They will surely blame Russia for everything, but this will not help ordinary Ukrainian citizens who will face much higher food costs in the near future.

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