War hits Ukraine grains harvest hard, leaving many parts of Africa in crisis mode

FILE - A farmer collects his harvest on 10 kilometers from the front line in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, on July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The Russian invasion will have a heavy impact on this year’s grain crops in Ukraine, resulting in the loss of about 30 million tons, and this reality could fuel mass migration from Africa, which has already picked up steam in recent months.

According to the forecast presented on Wednesday by the Ukrainian agricultural consulting company APK-Inform, the amount of grain harvested will be between 52.5 and 55.4 million tons, far less than last year’s 80 million tons. This year, 18.2 million tons of wheat, 29.9 million tons of corn and 5.9 million tons of barley are expected to be harvested.

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Due to the smaller harvest, less grain will be exported. Depending on the magnitude of the logistical problems, Ukraine can export between 22.9 and 39.6 million tons of grain.

Even for the grain that does ship, it is of dubious quality. Many grain shipments were already scheduled to be shipped months ago, but crews either abandoned their ships to go fight or grain was simply unable to be moved due to the war. Much of this grain left on ships may have been left in unventilated conditions. As a result, mold and mycotoxins could have already grown on some shipments.

A report from Oxfam shows that a person in East Africa dies every 48 seconds due to acute starvation. As League Party leader Matteo Salvini warned, up to 20 million Africans will be looking to migrate due to the impacts from the war in Ukraine, with the majority of them setting their sights on Europe.

The Ukrainian government expects this year’s grain harvest to be around 50 million tons, but it did not release official data on the expected size of exports.

APK-Inform forecasts that Ukraine, also the world’s leading producer and exporter of sunflower oil, is expected to harvest up to 10.7 million tons of sunflower seeds this year, after 16.6 million tons last year. Because of this, sunflower oil production will decrease to 3.5 million tons from last year’s 4.97 million tons.

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