UKRAINE — Wheat sowing is in high gear in Ukraine with the country’s agriculture ministry reporting 92% sowing levels or 4.4 million hectares as of November despite a raging war with Russia.

According to the report from the ministry, the acreage included 3.7 million hectares of winter wheat, which is almost half the 6.2 million hectares of winter wheat that had been planted by 2021.

Despite wars disrupting agricultural activities in most regions of the country, the ministry revealed that six regions had already completed the 2022-23 winter sowing. Farmers have also sown 600,000 hectares of winter barley and 79,100 hectares of rye.

Ukraine sowed more than 6 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2022 harvest, but a large area has been occupied by Russian troops who invaded Ukraine in February, and only 4.6 million hectares were harvested.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy told Reuters in October that the ministry was keeping its forecast for the winter wheat sowing area for the 2023 harvest unchanged at 3.8 million hectares despite weather delays.

With planting area significantly trimmed, USDA projects Ukraine to produce a total of 20.5 million tonnes of wheat for the marketing year 2022-23, compared to an estimate of 33.01 million tonnes in 2021-22.

The US Department of Agriculture further projects that Ukraine will ship 11 million tonnes of wheat in 2022-23, a significant drop from an estimate of 18.84 million tonnes in 2021-22.

Ukraine’s grain shipments were stymied since Russia invaded the country and only resumed in late July when Russia agreed to the Black Sea Gain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

The grain deal, which has moved more than 9 million tonnes of grain and other food exports in the past three months, is due to expire on November 19.

 A UN statement on Nov. 11 said the participants “remain engaged in the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and held constructive discussions on its continuation.”

EBRD funds alternative routes for Ukraine exports

To prevent future trade disruption, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the development of alternative routes out of Ukraine by investing €300 million in Solidarity Lanes.

The Solidarity Lanes, established by the European Commission and EU-bordering countries in May, are essential routes for facilitating the export and import of Ukraine’s agricultural commodities as well as other goods.

The Lanes serve as alternatives to routes via Black Sea ports, which have been partially reopened but are not operating at their full pre-war capacity.

As part of its commitment, the EBRD is prioritizing investment in road, rail, and other infrastructure in Ukraine and its neighboring countries namely Moldova, Poland, and Romania.

EBRD further revealed that it is preparing a financial package for Ukrainian Railways which will be used to address border crossing bottlenecks and improve connectivity with the European Union.

The EBRD is also considering additional urgent investments in key port and railway infrastructure as well as in the expansion of silo capacity.

Overall, in Ukraine, the EBRD is supporting trade, energy and food security, vital infrastructure and the pharmaceuticals industry, and has committed to investing up to €3 billion in the country in 2022-23.

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