Contents:

1. Ukraine’s importance to the world: a cross-section of food security

2. Logistics disruptions and the situation with Ukrainian ports

3. Other factors affecting the agricultural sector

4. Ways to solve the above problems

The Peace Formula proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a plan for a fair end to the war in Ukraine, which has a negative impact on the entire civilised world. In November 2022, during the G20 summit, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented an expanded peace plan. The Peace Formula is universal. After Ukraine, it can be the basis for overcoming other military conflicts and global problems. Today, it is the right and, so far, the only diplomatic way to achieve sustainable peace.

The Peace Formula includes ten points:

The first is radiation and nuclear safety.

The second challenge is food security.

Energy security.

Release of prisoners and deportees.

Restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities.

Restoration of justice.

Environmental security.

Prevention of the escalation of the war and the recurrence of aggression.

Confirmation of the end of the war.

These are the ten steps to stop the war in Ukraine and restore the peace that exists in the civilised world.

As the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Agrarian and Land Policy in the Verkhovna Rada, which is responsible for food security, I would like to focus on the second point of the Peace Formula.

Stepan Cherniavskyi is the People’s Deputy of Ukraine and the Deputy Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Land Policies at the Verkhovna Rada.

Stepan Cherniavskyi is the People’s Deputy of Ukraine and the Deputy Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Land Policies at the Verkhovna Rada.

Ukraine’s importance to the world: a cross-section of food security

The war in Ukraine has a negative impact on food security around the world. It has led to huge disruptions in international supply chains. Ukraine is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of grain, oil seeds and other agricultural products. Russia’s restrictions on Ukrainian food exports through sea corridors destroyed crops, and mined fields have reduced Ukraine’s grain production, which was going to countries where people are suffering from food shortages.

According to the latest report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 828 million people – 10% of the world’s population – go to bed hungry every night, which is 46 million more than in 2022.

Even in times of war, despite the transport blockade and physical destruction of agricultural infrastructure, Ukraine is a guarantor of food security, as it provides food to 400 million people worldwide and remains a key player in the grain and sunflower oil export markets (over 10% of international trade). Thus, in 2023, 44.8 million tons of Ukrainian grain were exported to foreign markets, which is 16% higher than in 2022 (38 million tons of grain). Revenues from grain exports amounted to USD 8.3 billion.

Ukraine has the ability to produce, and store grain and food and, under UN programs, send agricultural products to those countries in the world that need them most, such as the poorest countries in the Middle East and North Africa. To put this in perspective, Ukrainian farmers produce about 2% of the world’s grain, including 2.3% of corn, 2.6% of wheat, and 3.6% of barley.

Ukrainian farmers produce about 2% of the world’s grain \ Unsplash

Ukrainian farmers produce about 2% of the world’s grain \ Unsplash

Last year, the largest buyers of Ukrainian grain were traditionally the EU, Asia, and Africa. The largest importers of Ukrainian grain are Spain, China, and Romania. These three countries accounted for about 44% of Ukraine’s total value of all grain purchases.

Before the full-scale war in Ukraine, the grain harvest amounted to about 70 million tons of grain. In 2023, during the war, it was 58 million tons of grain. The projected expected yield for 2024-2025 is 52 million tons of grain. That is, yearly in Ukraine, grain yields decrease by 10 million tons of grain. This means millions of people in the world who need bread.

Logistics disruptions and the situation with Ukrainian ports

Any actions that negatively affect the production and supply of food products create global risks in the global economy. First and foremost, the logistics chains of agricultural exports to global markets were affected. Even now, after the reopening of some Ukrainian seaports, farmers still have significantly limited opportunities to export their products. However, the situation with the supply of agricultural products to the EU and other countries has improved over the past two years.

Today, the routes for shipping grain or other agricultural products are mainly through the ports of Great Odesa (Yuzhne, Odesa, Chornomorsk). Now, they continue to operate under fire with a constant risk of loss of life and products. We see that the enemy is now shelling the port infrastructure of the Odesa region particularly often. This not only makes it impossible to supply agricultural products but also makes them more expensive. As a result, people cannot afford to buy the food they used to be able to because of the high price of food.

In two years, we have learned to work under missiles and have reached almost the same volume as before the war. But this is all thanks to our military, who managed to knock out the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which constantly threatens the grain corridor.

The largest importers of Ukrainian grain are Spain, China, and Romania \ Unsplash

The largest importers of Ukrainian grain are Spain, China, and Romania \ Unsplash

Loss of land, mined areas. Ukraine is currently the most mined country in the world – potentially 156,000 square kilometres of territory. The territories of five regions of Ukraine are under partial occupation: Luhansk (almost the entire region), Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, Kharkiv, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (annexed in 2014 and turned into a springboard for Russian military aggression).

Because of the war, Ukraine lost 19.3% of its cropland, and more than 5 million hectares of arable land are not used today. These are the territories that have been mutilated by the war. According to the Ministry of Environment, the war caused more than UAH 900 billion in damage to the soil. We are losing our pre-war grain production volumes and, most importantly, we are losing our people.

Before the war in Ukraine in 2014, there were 32.5 million hectares of arable land with the occupied territories, including Crimea, and by 2022, 30.4 million hectares. And now it is 26.3 million hectares. A lot of land is not cultivated because of mines.

Other factors affecting the agricultural sector

Logistics chains for the delivery and production of spare parts or equipment to enterprises are disrupted \ Unsplash

Logistics chains for the delivery and production of spare parts or equipment to enterprises are disrupted \ Unsplash

Fertilisers. There is a problem with yields due to a lack of mineral fertilisers. The fewer mineral fertilisers farmers apply, the lower their yields are. There is a trend now that due to the high price of fertilisers, farmers have stopped buying and using them in the soil. As a result, yields have suffered.

Blackout. The constant shelling of energy infrastructure, damage to power grids, or blackouts means that ports are not functioning and food is spoiling. This can cause poisoning from spoiled food and could even potentially lead to an epidemic. This is all about the food security of the world and people.

People. Another significant problem is human resources, a catastrophic shortage of people. There are no men today who are needed to produce agricultural products and food and work in the field. This is the biggest problem, and its solution is a priority. However, it is unrealistic to do this during the war because men are needed at the front.

Fuel shortage. Fuel shortages and high prices. Also, the logistics chains for the delivery and production of spare parts or equipment to enterprises are disrupted.

Ways to solve the above problems

The first thing to do is to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the energy infrastructure. Without energy, ports will not function, and even demining will not be possible.

The next step is to ensure the operation of logistics routes, including the development of port infrastructure. We need to restore shipping and its safety, restore the full operation of ports and the uninterrupted operation of rail transport.

The starting point for food security is free and safe navigation in the Black and Azov Seas \ Unsplash

The starting point for food security is free and safe navigation in the Black and Azov Seas \ Unsplash

Creating a threat-resistant agricultural supply system is necessary to ensure food security in Ukraine and the world. The starting point for food security is free and safe navigation in the Black and Azov Seas. The gradual restoration of free navigation implies restoring Ukraine’s sovereign control over Ukrainian ports, creating new ports, and expanding the range of Ukrainian goods transported by sea.

Today, thanks to the opening of the Ukrainian sea corridor, 85% of agricultural products are exported by water. The rest is exported by rail and a small amount by road. However, it is very important to maintain all possible export routes, as even a one-week delay critically impacts the state of the agricultural sector and the country’s food security. Therefore, Ukrainian farmers need support to continue to ensure the world’s food security.

Restoring the food industry, creating innovative hubs in Ukraine for the production of environmentally friendly food products;

Ensuring the safety of processing plants and agricultural enterprises.

Implementing the Action Plan for the demining of agricultural land where military operations took place to ensure sustainable and environmentally safe agricultural production.

Introducing new technologies for growing and processing agricultural products. For example, modern mineral fertilisers and high-performance seeds.

Launching a long-term program to increase the capacity of transport routes through the EU. Extend customs visa-free travel for Ukrainian farmers.

It is also necessary to provide modern technologies for food quality control. To do this, tracks that control traffic must be installed.

Ukraine, as a reliable partner in ensuring global food security, can take the initiative to form strategic grain reserves on its territory, both for our country and for the UN. For the world, this global idea aims to solve the hunger problem. Ukraine has the potential to annually form a quota of 15-20 million tons of the UN’s world grain reserve (UN strategic reserves) and not only store such grain but also, under orders, deliver it to the regions suffering from food shortages.

For Ukraine, strategic grain reserves are not only food reserves but also tools for redirecting financial resources from the virtual to the real sector of the economy.

The Ukrainian humanitarian initiative “Grain from Ukraine” should be developed as a tool to actively \ Unsplash

The Ukrainian humanitarian initiative “Grain from Ukraine” should be developed as a tool to actively \ Unsplash

The Ukrainian humanitarian initiative “Grain from Ukraine” should be developed as a tool to actively and acceleratedly overcome the problem of hunger in the most vulnerable states and regions. Given that, Russia is using grain to finance the war directly (by levying export duties).

Given the consequences of hostilities and the temporary occupation of certain territories of Ukraine, the state of logistics chains and internal and external migration processes that have caused significant disruptions in the traditional distribution of labour and places of residence of agricultural consumers, as well as in view of the progressive climate change, it is advisable to adjust the regional distribution of agri-food production.

Every day of the war brings huge losses to our farmers and the country’s economy. Most farmers are losing income and need financial support. Ukraine needs a full unblocking of exports by sea, international support and financial assistance to win the war as soon as possible. This is necessary, among other things, to prevent the growth of hunger in the world’s poor countries.

We must work together to prevent any threats to international food security and fully provide consumer countries with food at predictable and stable prices.

The Peace Formula is the right platform, and most countries of the world see it as a basis, a map, steps, and a plan to overcome this terrible tragedy. Ukraine is grateful to everyone in the world who is helping us defend freedom and restore peace! May our joint efforts be crowned with success as soon as possible.

 

By Stepan Cherniavskyi

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