The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has announced the launch of a new US$17M project to help Ukrainian farmers save the upcoming harvest while ensuring exports of critical agricultural goods to international markets.

Funded by Japan and implemented jointly with Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, the project aims to restore grain storage capacity and supply chain functionality from harvest to export as well as helping Ukrainian farmers to continue production, the 5 July FAO statement said.

“Ukraine’s farmers are feeding themselves, their communities and millions more people around the world. Ensuring they can continue production, safely store and access alternative markets to sell their produce is vital to secure food availability, protect livelihoods, strengthen food security within Ukraine and ensure other import-dependent countries have a steady and sufficient supply of grain at a manageable cost,” Rein Paulsen, director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience, said.

One of the world’s top-five grain exporters, supplying more than 45M tonnes/year of grain to the global market, Ukraine has 18M tonnes of last year’s cereals and oilseeds in storage waiting for export due to the blockage of Black Sea ports by Russia, according to the country’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food.

Alternative rail and river routes could not compensate for lost exports through maritime transportation and issues with potential new supply chains had yet to be resolved, the report said.

Ukraine was expecting to harvest up to 60M tonnes of grain this season, the FAO said, but the drop in exports had not led to increased storage space for the new harvest as 30% of the available space remained filled with last year’s crop.

The FAO said the project would address the lack of storage by providing polyethylene grain sleeves, grain loading and unloading machinery to smallholders and a range of modular storage containers to medium-sized producers and associations in 10 regions in the east, centre, south and north of Ukraine.

In addition, the project will provide technical support to the government to secure alternative transport routes for grain export.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has unveiled a US$5bn logistics plan for an integrated road, rail and port strategy while calling for international investment to boost the country’s grain and oilseed exports and counter the impact of the ongoing conflict following Russia’s invasion, AgriCensus reported on 6 July.

“If Ukrainian business and the state receive the support of international partners, we will be able to expand the window for exports, imports and humanitarian assistance. The economic security of not only Ukraine, but the whole world is under threat,” Ukraine’s minister for infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

Improvements to road, rail and border checkpoints will focus on building new connections towards borders with the European Union (EU) and down to the Danube ports – Ukraine’s last option for seaborne exports – and were expected to cost up to US$5bn, according to Kubrakov.

The government said it was expecting work to start this year and continue until 2025 and will involve the addition of three new road checkpoints on the border with Hungary and Romania, alongside new and upgraded rail links.