War threatens Ukraine's place in global food security - Ukrainian experts

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Ukrainian flag is covered with grains in this picture illustration taken May 9, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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KYIV, June 15 (Reuters) - Ukraine may not be able to regain its role in helping maintain global food security unless damage done to the country's agriculture sector during Russia's invasion is repaired, Ukrainian experts said on Wednesday.

An analysis by the Kyiv School of Economics Institute's Center for Food Research and Land Use in cooperation with the agriculture ministry said 2.4 million hectares of winter crops worth $1.435 billion would not be harvested because of the war.

The agriculture sector has so far suffered losses of $4.292 billion because of the invasion and the war has killed about 42,000 sheep and goats, 92,000 cows, 258,000 pigs and more than 5.7 million heads of poultry, it said.

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"Russia's aggression affects not only the ability to freely export our agricultural products and feed about 400 million people a year around the globe," said Roman Neyter, an expert at the Center for Food and Land Use Research.

"Damage to land, infrastructure, and agricultural machinery directly affects the production of agricultural products in Ukraine. Without the restoration of lost assets, Ukraine will not be able to return to its place in global food security. Damage assessment is the first element in assessing the need for restoration."

Ukraine is usually a major global grain and oilseed grower, but its exports have fallen sharply since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24. Because of a Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports, Kyiv is trying to export by road, river and rail.

The fall in production and in exports has stoked fears of a global food crisis and the war, together with Western sanctions against Russia, has sent the price of grain, cooking oil, fertiliser and energy soaring.

Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi said this week the invasion could create a global wheat shortage for at least three seasons by keeping much of the Ukrainian crop from markets, pushing prices to record levels. read more

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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