Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine’s crop this year could be half the normal amount due to the Russian invasion, in comments likely to intensify fears of global hunger.
The Ukrainian president wrote in English on Twitter: “The Ukrainian crop is in danger of being reduced twice this year.” His country’s main goal, Zelensky said, was to prevent the global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion.
His remarks came after it emerged that the owner of one of Ukraine’s largest agricultural companies had been killed in a shelling of the strategically important southern city of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea.
Before the invasion, Ukraine was known as the breadbasket of Europe, a major supplier to countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. When Russia invaded it blocked Ukraine’s ports, causing a worldwide grain shortage, prompting the United Nations to warn of the devastation of hunger.
According to a video tweeted by Zelensky, Ukraine produced 80 million metric tons of grain, including wheat, corn and barley, in 2021, enough to feed 400 million people for six months. This year Ukraine is set to harvest and ship less than half of that amount, the video says.
Zelensky said last week that Ukraine was ready to allow grain ships to travel by its waters, but was waiting for the green light from the United Nations and Turkey. Under an agreement signed on 22 July, the United Nations and Turkey have guaranteed the safe passage of grain-carrying ships from three Ukrainian ports.
Denied access to its major ports, Ukraine has been seeking to export grain via road and rail, but it faces delays and bureaucracy at borders, as well as capacity limits on alternative routes. Does matter. As a result, Ukrainian cereals are trapped in mountain silos, and food prices hit 10-year highs earlier in 2022, prompting the United Nations World Food Program to risk several famines over the next one to two years without prompt action. warned. ,
Separately, the owner of one of Ukraine’s biggest agricultural companies was killed in a gunfight in the southern city of Mykolaiv this weekend.
Local governor Vitaly Kim said on Telegram that Oleksiy Vadatursky, Nibulon’s majority owner, and his wife, Raisa Vadaturska, were killed during shelling at their home, which targeted several targets including schools, a sports center and several residences.
Nibulon, headquartered in Mykolaiv, produces and exports wheat, barley and corn. It has its own fleet and shipyard and can store 2.25m tonnes of grain, the largest capacity in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian media, Kim said that Vadatursky founded the company 30 years ago and “did a lot for the Mykolaiv region and Ukraine”.
Officials in Mykolaive said on Sunday that the city had endured its strongest firefight of the war. “Mykolaiv suffered massive shelling today. Perhaps the strongest ever, ”said the mayor of the city, Oleksandr Senkevich. “The sound of powerful explosions was heard after one o’clock in the morning and around five in the morning.”
The city is the largest Ukrainian-controlled urban center near the border of the Kherson region, a retaliation for control of the coastal area seized by Russian forces.
Mykolaiv has been shelled daily for several weeks and nearly half of the pre-war population of 500,000 people have left the city.