US to provide relief for Ukrainian farmers
By: Sydney Sheffield
Through the Agriculture Resilience Initiative (AGRI)- Ukraine, the United States announced it will provide $250 million in aid to Ukrainian agriculture producers and farmers. AGRI- Ukraine is an initiative started last year to support Ukrainian agriculture exports and combat global food security issues exacerbated by the Russian invasion.
“We have a collective interest in ensuring that Ukrainian farmers stay in business. We are providing resources to help them store their harvests that they can't sell. We are helping them protect their grain from pests and rot,” said United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power. “These investments are part of a broader set of investments that the United States and our partners are making in order to not only help Ukraine win the war on the battlefields, but at the very time they do that, to also build a more resilient future.”
The announcement came one day after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed Ukraine to continue exporting its grain by sea despite Russia’s naval blockade. The additional funding will be used to create and expand alternative export routes for Ukrainian farmers. It will help modernize Ukrainian border crossings and update road and rail infrastructure. The United States will also work with private companies to increase export capacity along Danube River ports.
Ukraine is a major supplier of corn, wheat, barley, and vegetable oil, and has shipped 36.2 million tons of grain under the nearly yearlong deal designed to ease a global food crisis. It has been able to export an additional 2.2 to 2.7 million tons, monthly by the Danube River, road, and rail through Europe. USAID has worked to help Ukrainian farmers store grain they are unable to sell. It has also worked with private sector partners to provide financing, seed, and fertilizer. The additional investments will help farmers plant new crops even if they have been unable to sell previous harvests.
Leaders all over the globe are pushing for Russia to reverse its decision to leave the Black Sea grain Deal. Pope Francis addressed crowds at St. Peter’s Square, stating, "I appeal to my brothers, the authorities of the Russian Federation, so that the Black Sea initiative may be resumed, and grain may be transported safely."
During her press conference, Powers calls for other governments, philanthropies, and the private sector to consider providing additional aid to help Ukrainian farmers. “USAID’s funding with today's announcement will reach $350 million. And to be clear, these investments do two things,” said Powers. “Yes, they help farmers and the agricultural sector deal with the urgent implications of Putin's aggression. But these investments are investments, as well, in Ukraine's long-term future – in the breadbasket that will help feed hungry communities around the world for generations to come.”