Over $115 million urgently needed to assist Ukrainian farmers: FAO
Rome, April 19 (IANS) Some $115.4 million are urgently needed to prevent a further deterioration of the food insecurity situation and worsening of the disruption of food supply chains in Ukraine, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said on Tuesday.
There is urgency to support Ukrainian farmers in planting vegetables and potatoes during this spring season, and farmers should be allowed and supported to go to their fields and save the winter wheat harvest.
With this plan, in line with the revised Inter-Agency Flash Appeal, FAO has more than doubled its initial request of $50 million to support 376,660 small and medium-sized farming households or almost one million people through December 2022.
"As food access, production and overall food availability deteriorate in many parts of Ukraine as a result of the war, efforts to bolster agricultural production and the functioning of food supply chains will be critical to averting a food crisis in 2022 and into 2023," said Rein Paulsen, FAO Director of Emergencies and Resilience.
"FAO's immediate concern is to support the ongoing spring planting season and to prevent the disruption of the upcoming winter crop harvesting, which typically occurs in June-July, and could severely threaten food security in the country. Agriculture depends on seasons. There is no time to waste to get ready for the upcoming fall season."
Agriculture is central to Ukraine's economy, playing a key role in protecting food security and livelihoods across the country, as well as the region. The vast destruction of crops and infrastructure due to the war jeopardizes food production and food security.
FAO estimates that one-third of the crops and agricultural land may not be harvested or cultivated in 2022. The forced displacement of civilian populations fleeing the war and the conscription of men into territorial defence forces is resulting in labour shortages and an increased burden on women.
This situation is exacerbated by a decrease in the access and availability of crucial agricultural inputs.
Preliminary data collected by FAO, through ongoing assessments, demonstrates that farmers at all levels need cash to procure inputs and services for food production and to maintain their farming operations.
The impacts of the war necessitate a large-scale expansion of FAO activities and technical support across the country.
FAO needs to provide crop and other inputs in the immediate and medium-term. In the immediate term, the provision of vegetable and crop seed along with cash will ensure that seasonal deadlines for food production are met.
Support for livestock holders will include the distribution of small livestock, animal health inputs, feed and fodder to allow vulnerable households to produce milk, meat and eggs to meet the growing local demand.
FAO will continue to support medium-sized producers and key market actors along agrifood supply chains to bolster market functionality and access to food in key communities and urban centres.
In addition, FAO will provide unconditional cash transfers that can support a wide range of basic needs of displaced and other vulnerable, conflict-affected households.
Recipients can use cash to support food production and sale, including labour, transportation, veterinary services and equipment, in areas where these are locally available in the markets.
FAO's funding to date is of $8.5 million to reach 70,941 people with livelihoods support. It comprises FAO funds and contributions from resource partners, including Japan, Belgium, the European Union, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).
The contributions come at a critical time in the response to the crisis. The funds will support small-scale farmers to maintain minimum food production through the provision of wheat seeds and key agricultural inputs.
The funding gap is now $106.9 million. With more resources, FAO will be able to reach more people in time for the spring season.