Kyiv, Nov. 10 (Reuters) – On a crisp and sunny November morning, Ukrainian farmers line up to collect United Nations-supplied grain sleeves to store crops for the winter as the country faces a severe shortage of storage capacity caused by Russian shelling .
Ukraine has said it may lack as much as 15 million tonnes of conventional grain storage capacity to store its 60-65 million tonnes of grain and oilseed harvest this year after a large number of silos were destroyed or damaged in hostilities.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it had secured more than 30,000 bags, which will help ease a storage shortage of 6 million tonnes. More than 7,500 bags have been distributed to 356 farms.
Nearly 1,500 farms across Ukraine received assistance. Each of them can hold up to about 200 tons of grain for up to nine months.
Measuring 60 meters (197 feet) long and 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) wide, the sleeves are loaded by a machine that slowly stretches the bag to the ground while pouring grain from a separate trailer.
After February 2 in Russia, local food prices fell. Ukraine invaded on the 24th, and Ukrainian farmers said they faced export difficulties and high costs due to power outages after Russian missiles and drones attacked energy facilities.
“We are trying to encourage (farmers) to keep food and wait for better prices… It’s important for their economy and they need money,” said FAO spokesperson Viktoria Mykhalchuk in Ukraine.
Volodymyr Tsekhmister, who tends 2,000 hectares (4,940 acres) of land in the Kyiv region, said he was collecting 76 bags of corn to store as low market prices forced him to wait.
“At this time in previous years, we (our crops) would have sold all of them, but today a large portion of our production is unsold … last year’s harvest remains unsold,” he said.
Another farm, Kivshovata Agro, manages 2,300 hectares (5,680 acres) of land in the Kyiv region, and Lyudmylla Martyniuk echoed those sentiments while collecting 39 bags to store corn.
“The prices of diesel, petrol and spare parts have gone up, while the prices of our agricultural products, wheat, corn have dropped significantly,” she said.
Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by Jonathan Otis
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