How the War is Affecting Farming in Ukraine

Will the Russian invasion of Ukraine lead to a food crisis?
Morten Schmidt, new CEO, and Slava Mazai_OneSoil Blog
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OneSoil is tightly connected to Ukraine. We’ve completed hundreds of field experiments with Ukrainian farmers and agricultural holdings. According to the latest figures, Ukrainian users have already input 48% of the country’s arable land in the OneSoil app. Today, OneSoil is waiting for the war to end, cooperating with the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, and staying in touch with its Ukrainian friends and partners.
Many other countries depend on what's going on in the 'Breadbasket of Europe', but no one knows exactly what's in store for its agricultural sector.

To better understand what's happening with agriculture in Ukraine, we talked to two Ukrainian experts and analyzed crops based on satellite images.

Will crops be planted in Ukraine?
Will harvests be affected?
What's in store for Ukrainian exports?
Will there be a global food crisis?
How have Ukrainian farmers made it through past crises?
How has the war affected agricultural logistics in Ukraine?
What changes are in store for Ukrainian agriculture after the war?
✨ How OneSoil is helping agriculture in Ukraine
Bogdan Lukiyanchuck
Founder of Growex group of companies, a marketplace for farmers and an educational platform with a systematic approach to farm management. Bogdan Lukiyanchuck is a leading Ukrainian agronomist who works with farmers from every region of the country.

Will wheat and corn be planted in Ukraine?

I think that at least 80% of the country will start the agricultural season as normal because there aren't that many occupied territories. It's also unlikely that there will be serious issues with sunflower, wheat, corn, or other crops that are usually grown in currently occupied areas.

Will harvests be affected? Will the yield in Ukraine decrease?

Yields will drop. We had initially planned for lower yields due to a shortage of fertilizers, but now the issue is exacerbated.

What's in store for Ukrainian wheat exports?

In Ukraine, 90% of all exports used to go through five ports, none of which are operational right now, and that's the biggest problem.

But worst of all, farmers can't deliver their goods. A large portion of the record harvest in 2021 is still in warehouses and can't be taken out. Cars aren't an option, and a single train can only handle 6,000 tons of grain. To put things into perspective, Kernel [the largest producer and exporter of sunflower oil in Ukraine — OneSoil] usually loads 100,000 tons a day at just a single terminal, and there are dozens of them throughout Ukraine. A massive amount of products can't be exported from Ukraine right now.

Will there be a global food crisis?

The problem isn't even that we can't get the money to buy seeds and plant crops like normal. We've been through this before in the past and can handle it. The real problem is that the grain we have now that can't be exported was destined for countries in Africa and Asia. So they're the ones who might face a hunger crisis.
Valeriia Vashchenko
OneSoil Product Manager in Ukraine

How have Ukrainian farmers made it through past crises? What is typical for Ukrainian agriculture?

Covid-19 taught farmers to always be ready to tough things out. In 2020, in addition to the epidemic, there was a drought in Ukraine that resulted in the lowest yields in a decade. Farmers from other regions helped those whose crops were destroyed. For example, they sent seed to Odesa and Cherkasy for the next season. Then, in 2021, there was an energy crisis, and fertilizer prices shot up by 1.5−2x [the most popular fertilizers, nitrogen fertilizers, are made from natural gas — OneSoil]. All this was a sign that the time had come for Ukrainian farmers to reconsider their approach to resources and economic efficiency.

How has the war affected agricultural logistics in Ukraine?

Today, the Ukrainian government is taking unprecedented steps to optimize resources to support farming. Railway carriers are doing everything they can to export Ukrainian agricultural production and import needed resources back home. There are plans to eliminate agricultural import duties. Measures are also being taken to reduce the cost of fuel for planting and logistics companies. This alone is a huge help.

What changes are in store for Ukrainian farming after the war?

A lot of people are starting to think about the country's food security. Farms are trying to set up their own processing to produce cereals, canned staples, and other products for personal consumption. To avoid food shortages in Ukraine's regions, it's crucial that farmers produce their own finished products, not just focus on exporting raw materials.

How OneSoil is helping agriculture in Ukraine

We're currently providing the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine with field analytics to help optimize logistics.

Using our proprietary machine learning algorithms, we determined the total area of winter crops this season to be 8.89 million hectares. At this stage of the plant cycle, winter wheat can't be distinguished from other winter crops, so the map shows the distribution of all winter crops in Ukraine.
Users’ feedback on the contrasted NDVI_OneSoil Blog
Map of winter crop distribution by region in Ukraine
We also made an infographic on winter rapeseed (total area: 0.95 million hectares in Ukraine).
Users’ feedback on the contrasted NDVI_OneSoil Blog
Map of winter rapeseed distribution by region in Ukraine
These maps help estimate the total area planted. However, the harvest will depend on the ability to first carry out all the necessary field operations, including applying fertilizers and plant protection products.

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