Russian military advances are threatening fields in southern and eastern Ukraine that are some of the most fertile in the country and are located in the country’s primary growing regions for winter wheat, according to market analysts and researchers.
Ukrainian farmers last year were heading out into the fields to harvest their winter wheat on more than 7 million hectares, or 17 million acres. Now, farmers will be lucky to harvest 4.8 million hectares, or about 12 million acres, according to a new forecast by UkrAgroConsult, a firm based in Kyiv. Farmers are harvesting winter wheat in Odesa, a southwest province that has been attacked by Russian missiles, but fields on Ukraine’s eastern provinces are either under occupation or siege. ”
After the northern part of Ukraine was liberated in early April, all of the hostilities became concentrated in southern and eastern Ukraine,” says Maryna Marynych, a research analyst for UkrAgroConsult. Displaying photos of fields pockmarked with blackened blast craters, she added: “As of the end of June, nearly 20% of Ukraine is under occupation, and fields that are close to the frontline look like this.”
While 20% of Ukraine may be occupied by Russian forces, more than half the country’s winter wheat fields are considered either occupied or at high risk because of their proximity to the fighting. Large swaths of Ukraine’s most productive wheat-growing area are in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces – or oblasts – but that’s where the heaviest fighting is, and much of the region is under Russian control.
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