Ukraine: national food security is threatened by war

During the 20 days of war a lot of civil objects were destroyed all around Ukraine. Residential areas, private buildings, schools, hospitals, factory buildings, and storages. Ukraine is an agricultural country, in the cause of military actions, agricultural machinery and food storage facilities are being destroyed as well. Unfortunately, this happens too often to be explained by mere coincidence.

Beeld: ©State Emergency Service of Ukraine / State Emergency Service of Ukraine
Burning warehouse of MHP in Kvitneve, Brovary region

Recently, the chief department of investigations of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine reported about systematic cases of destruction of agricultural machinery in Brovary district (Kyiv region), Melitopol district (Zaporizhia region), Pryluky, Nizhyn, Novgorod-Siversky districts (Chernihiv region), and in several districts of Kherson and Kharkiv regions. Ministry of Defense reports that on the occupied territories agricultural machinery is confiscated by invaders to perform engineering work, construction of fortifications and for use as tractors for armored vehicles. The local population in the occupied settlements is forcibly involved in these works.

On the territories located close to the military actions, storage facilities where agricultural machinery is stored, are in danger. From the latest reports by the Ministry of Defence, in the night of March 13 in the settlements of Chupakhivka and Olenynske of Okhtyrka district (Sumy region) a targeted air-bomb attack was carried out on the places of storage of agricultural machinery. As a result of the strike, all equipment, more than 30 units was destroyed.

Food production facilities, food storage and logistic centers are also under strike.  On March 12, large warehouse of MHP was destroyed in the town Brovary north of Kyiv. Produce stock worth 230 mln. UAH was destroyed. On March 14, one of the buildings of Danone factory in Kherson was hit, so the company had to stop its operations on that location.

It is not only direct destruction, but also broken logistic chains that force businesses to stop operations. The poultry factory of Avangard in Skhidne near Kherson, could no longer continue its operations, as delivering feed and workers to its facilities was no longer possible. The company were able to bring 30 thous. heads of hens and more than million eggs to Kherson and gave away 60 thousand heads to the neighboring communities.

Beeld: ©Denys Marchuk / Facebook page Denys Marchuk, deputy Head of All-Ukrainian Agrarian council
Ruined tractor in Donetsk oblast

Acute food crisis might be even closer then next harvesting season. Mass migration of refugees to the western regions of Ukraine caused forced re-arrangement of existing supply chains. Food products are available in east and the center of Ukraine, but most of consumers are now in the western part, often without any money. Petrol and diesel for logistics are precious and scarce because petrol storage bases were among the first goals for bombing.

To create extra opportunities to improve supply of food, import of food products to Ukraine was made easier, the government of Ukraine simplified the rules of import: now the inscriptions on the food packaging do not have to be Ukrainian (can be English), and import of composite and processed food products of animal origin that undergone thermal treatment and were produced in the EU, is allowed with the EU-form of veterinary certificates. This might offer short-term solutions.

But in fact, it is the Ukrainian producers who should deliver food to the consumers and be able to get paid. Solutions are being developed to tackle this problem by the government and private initiatives.

The conclusions are not consoling.

There is evidence that the enemy is deliberately destroying agricultural machinery and facilities in Ukraine. This will jeopardize agricultural operations all over the country and can lead to a humanitarian crisis in some regions.

Food security is threatened in Ukraine by war actions. Not only this will harm the Ukrainian citizens, but also the status of one of the main suppliers of different types of crops to the markets of Europe and China will be changed.

Occupant army continues striking civilian objects violating by this the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.