Ukraine grain production to drop 40 per cent over Russian invasion

Before the war, Ukraine was the fourth largest wheat and corn exporter in the world. PHOTO: REUTERS

KYIV, UKRAINE (AFP) - Ukraine's wheat harvest is expected to fall by 40 per cent, the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA) said on Wednesday (June 1), as the Russian invasion has sent prices soaring and sparked fears of a global food crisis.

Kyiv will likely export half the amount of grain that it did in the previous season, the group said.

Moscow's offensive has not only devastated crops and farming, but also disrupted crucial deliveries from Ukraine - one of the world's main grain producers - fuelling concerns about hunger and food prices worldwide.

Ukraine expects to collect just over 19 million tones of wheat this season, compared to the 33 million tonnes it had harvested last year, the association said.

It assured that it will be able to export at least "a part" of the grain, despite fighting ravaging the country.

"Despite the occupation of territories and mined fields, Ukraine will be supplied with grain and will be able to export part of the harvest."

Even with 19 million tonnes, production is still three times Ukraine's annual wheat consumption. An additional 10 million tonnes from the previous harvest are still in storage.

The association predicted that around ten million tonnes could be exported this season.

That would amount to half of last year's exports, which stood at around 20 million tonnes, according to a US government agriculture report.

The corn harvest will also be badly hit by the war.

UGA expects crops to reach around 26 million tonnes, a 30 per cent drop from last year.

Before the war, Ukraine was the fourth largest wheat and corn exporter in the world.

Ukrainian servicemen walk along a road in Ukraine's Donetsk region as seeds burn in grain silos following repeated shelling. PHOTO: REUTERS

Russia, too, is a grain superpower and 30 per cent of the world's grain exports originate from the warring countries.

Since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, grain and oil prices have soared.

The UN fears a "hurricane of hunger" - mainly in African countries that import more than half of their wheat from either Russia or Ukraine.

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