Ukraine: FAO and EU in $15.5 million bid to avert food crisis threat
In Ukraine, the country’s farmers and smallholders urgently need more support to avoid a food crisis, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Wednesday, as it announced a $15.5 million initiative to help them.
With funding from the European Union, the project will help sustain agricultural production in Ukraine, after Russia’s full-scale invasion last February forced many rural producers to scale down or abandon their activities, amid the destruction of crops and farm equipment, and disruption to supply chains.
Some 13 million people living in rural areas rely on Ukraine’s farming sector, according to FAO.
“The testimonies of the individuals and families who I met during my visits to the newly accessible areas, confirm the urgent need for immediate support towards restoring their household capacities and avoiding dependence on humanitarian assistance,” said Pierre Vauthier, head of FAO’s Ukraine country office.
Seeds of insecurity
Local and displaced populations in western Ukraine are also among those who need help in the short term, amid rising food insecurity and as people exhaust their savings, FAO said.
The UN agency noted that in a recent nationwide assessment on the impact of the war, one in four of the 5,200 respondents either reduced or halted agricultural production as a direct result of the relentless fighting.
FAO explained that as the conflict continues, a large number of households, family farms, individual producers and others, have found it increasingly difficult to continue operating.
“It is critical to protect those households from the further deterioration of their productive capacities, which are the foundations of their resilience,” the agency said.
Starting from March 2023, grants of $1,000-$25,000, will be available to support production in the regions of Lviv, Zakarpatska, Ivano-Frankivska and parts of Chernivetska.
Beneficiaries will be required to make a matching contribution in order to receive the financial aid, which covers sectors including aquaculture, sheep farming and winemaking.
“The project aims to provide timely support to agricultural producers and small-scale agricultural enterprises with urgently needed access to finance, technical and business development advice and market intelligence,” said Hanna Antonyuk, Project Manager at FAO Ukraine.
“During wartime, these investments are necessary to secure the operations of agricultural producers, to support their adaptation to the evolving environment and to lay the foundations for sustainable growth.”
Major challenges expected in the next few months in crop and livestock farming include low sale prices at market, a lack of fertilizers and pesticides and shortages of fuel or electricity to power agricultural equipment.
The EU-funded project already provided emergency agricultural support between March and May last year. More than 6,000 households benefited from agricultural inputs, cash, vegetable seeds and seed potatoes to continue food production for household consumption, FAO reported.
One of the project’s aims is to help preserve a unique national collection of plant genetic resources, which FAO describes as being globally significant in terms of its volume and diversity of genetic material.