Ukraine – the farming front line

“We don’t speak about productivity, we speak about surviving”

New AG International has spoken to a number of participants in the agribusiness sector in Ukraine, including an adviser to the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, to find out how the invasion by the Russian military has impacted the country’s agriculture sector, the availability of inputs, and what it means for the spring season and the all-important export trade. There were stories of support from agribusiness for the Ukrainian army - not just giving food and fuel. One company said it had given its drones to the military. (NOTE: “interviewee” used to protect identities of sources)

Luke Hutson writes: “We don’t speak about productivity, we speak about surviving,” said Alex Lissitsa, CEO of IMC, one of Ukraine’s large agribusinesses and board member of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club (UCAB). With land in Chernihiv and Sumy regions, his company had some of their lands occupied by Russian forces. By the end of March, the territory was back in Ukrainian hands, but he quickly pointed out this does not mean it is safe to farm. In some previously occupied regions, there are mines in fields, as well as along the roads.

Lissitsa’s agribusiness is planning to show around 70,000 hectares (ha). He said the latest date for sowing in North Ukraine is 20 May. Another source said the compaction caused by tank tracks also made farming some fields difficult. Estimates for the amount of arable land lost vary and will continue to do so as the situation evolves.

One source estimated that 30 percent of farming land is either currently occupied, unsafe, or unable to be farmed. “From our land bank at the moment, there is no access to an area of about 5,000 hectares - agricultural trials are canceled,” Inter, an agribusiness with 30,000 ha, told New AG International (NAI) in a statement. Another farm owner speaking to NAI said they had lost one-third of their land, equating to around 1,000 ha. This land was still occupied at the time of writing.


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