Zelensky warns of a disastrous harvest in Ukraine as the world faces a food crisis

Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Ukraine’s harvest could be cut in half by Russia’s invasion in a move that threatens to trigger a global food crisis.

Ukraine’s president warned of a catastrophic impact on this year’s harvest in “Europe’s breadbasket”, but insisted the country was finding a way to deliver grain alternatively.

It came as John Rich, chairman of MHP, Ukraine’s largest agricultural products company, said a push by Ukrainian forces into the south of the country – and an associated increase in hostilities – could affect the reconstruction of ports and surrounding roads that are crucial to boost grain exports.

The blockade of Ukrainian ports by Vladimir Putin’s war machine has cut off the wheat, corn and sunflower seed giant and hampered production, leading to global food shortages and price hikes.

Mr Zelensky said in a tweet on Sunday that Ukraine‘s harvest threatened to be “twice” lower than normal.

He said: “Our main objective — to prevent [a] global food crisis caused by [the] Russian invasion. Yet the grains find a way to be delivered alternately.

Ukraine’s president said on Friday grain shipments were ready and waiting since a UN-led pact between Ukraine and Russia was signed last month to resume exports for the first time since the outbreak. of the war.

But Mr Rich, an Australian executive and agribusiness adviser to the World Bank, said MHP would use a “wait and see” approach and stockpile produce.

He said: “I am the greatest optimist in the world. But in this case, reality tells me that it will not be an easy task. The Ukrainian government has the wit to try to get all this grain out. Everyone tries to do their best. But you can only do this within the physical limits.

“First, the ports need to be repaired. Second, we have road infrastructure to ports that needs to be repaired. Third, we need to clear these ports.

Often referred to as “Europe’s breadbasket”, Ukraine accounts for 12% of world exports of wheat, 16% of corn and 18% of barley. Its exports were enough to feed up to 400 million people worldwide before war broke out.

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