London, 25 May 2022 – EU imports around 40% of all cereals from Ukraine which is the main source of imported corn for the union, (6.5 million tons in 2020-2021) and a key supplier of wheat. Therefore the impact on bread and pasta, due to the war and Russian blockage of ports on the Black Sea, is huge.
Price of pasta is set to increase by 80%, bread by 50%. The alternative route for Ukrainian exports of cereals to EU countries has already started working: trains towards the northern route through Poland; Kyiv transport authorities said 600,000 tons of grain per month could be exported to Europe.
There are, by the way, logistical obstacles as Ukrainian railways do not fit the EU standards as the gauge is larger. That’s because the country kept the former USSR standards for trains. Now Poland in order to allow exports from the war-torn neighbours, is re-building abandoned tracks for the trains to transport cereals to EU.
The war is also disrupting food chain in Europe as Ukraine is the main exporter of fodder corn to feed animals. Ukrainian farmers lost 85% of their suppliers since Russian invasion and, according to Reuters, the total area planted with grain this spring is already expected to be up to 30% smaller than last year.
UN Food and Agriculture Organisation distributed across Ukraine’s oblasts 862 tons of seed potatoes over the last weeks ahead of spring sowing season to ensure harvest in September. Each family in the most hit oblasts received a kit with 50 kilograms of seed potatoes with an expected yield of about 600 kilograms of potatoes. These may be stored for many months for later consumption, used for the following planting seasons or sold to local markets.
Beyond this, there’s the immense damage and danger the block of cereals exports from Ukraine is causing to African countries where its main export goes.
Last week FAO Director-General QU Dongyu called for more funds for agriculture to ensure available and accessible food in areas of crisis as conflict “remains the single greatest driver of hunger.”
The World Food Programme launched the alarm as well warning 811 million people will “go to bed hungry every night around the world, with the number of those facing acute food insecurity having jumped from 135 million to 283 million since 2019, the damage already accumulated since the Covid-19 pandemic”.
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