Thursday, 5 February 2015

FAO report on the agriculture sector in Ukraine's conflict zone

Last week the FAO and Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture completed a joint rapid needs assessment (RNA) of the agriculture sector affected by the conflict in the east of the country.

This is a précis of their findings in their words.
  • Up to 30% of the winter wheat was lost in June/July due to conflict.
  • Lot of people could not plant spring crops (barley, corn) due to the ongoing shelling and fighting and nearly 50% of the autumn crop could not planted in some areas.
  • Spring sunflower that could not be harvested matured with seeds falling on the field affecting land for subsequent cropping season - meanwhile lower production affecting the raw material supply to oil industries.
  • Fields were also burnt due to shelling affecting harvest.
  • Farmers are worried about winter wheat (major crop) due to lack of sufficient fertilizer, which is needed after snow starts melting away.
  • Displaced families that have returned back need to restore their agriculture, but lack capital to purchase the inputs (seed, fertilizer, animal feed, etc).
  • Biggest poultry holding, pig farms and cropping land close to the borderline on both sides have been severely damaged.
  • Many livestock heads were either killed or taken away by the rebels during the fight (e.g. out of 53,000 cows in the Donbas region, 10,000 heads have been reported killed) and livestock shelters have been damaged or destroyed.
  • Farmers were forced to slaughter many cattle and pigs due to fear of losing them or lack of animal feed.
  • Fuel and fertilizer prices have gone up.
  • Trade with Russia has disrupted, so is the opportunity to sell the produce – enterprises are facing difficulty to transport the produce to other areas due to increasing costs and the need to detour.
  • Devaluation of UAH against USD is exacerbating the situation as the input prices have gone up, but the prices of agriculture produce have remained unchanged.
  • Access to credit is a major concern - farmers face difficulty accessing credit from the banks for restoring agriculture.
  • The enterprises are already losing and are therefore face difficulty in paying the land rent to the small shareholders.
  • Some lands are still mined and trenches are dug – these lands cannot be planted, especially for those whose lands are stretched along the ‘borderline’ and fall in highly insecured zone (UXOs are littering around).
  • Orchards need to be made ready for spring with fertilizer, herbicide and fungicide, labour charges and rent.
  • Machineries such as cultivator, seeder, harvester, tractors and accessories were lost or damaged by shelling, or taken away.
  • Families living in the villages within 40-60 km of the ‘borderline’ in Luhansk have lost many livestock (an example from a nearby village where 100 cows were killed out of a total stock of 120 in Northern Luhansk).
  • Some families need money to repair house damages, which limits their capability to purchase crop and livestock inputs.
  • Small families supported by the farming enterprises with inputs and machineries may not get support the next season due to problems faced by the these enterprises.
  • Supplementary feed and crop input packages to sustain their subsistence form of farming is an important priority.