The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said on Friday that Russian troops have looted stocks of Ukrainian grain and have destroyed agricultural storage facilities.
As stated by Josef Schmidhuber, a senior official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, “Grain is being stolen by Russia and transported on trucks into Russia and the same goes for agricultural implements.”
Schmidhuber said an estimated 700,000 tons of grain has been stolen. He noted that all evidence is anecdotal, but it is convincing.
“I think there is quite a bit of credibility to the footage” on social media, he said. “There is quite a bit of supporting evidence for the idea it is being trucked out.”
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest producer of grain supplies. Russia’s invasion has led to a surge in global food prices.
According to Scott Irwin, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, Ukraine’s crop area is just under 60 million acres, which is more than the crop area of the US states of Iowa and Illinois combined. “Ukraine is a huge agricultural producer,” Irwin tweeted, “produces about 4 billion bushels of crops a year. Also important to keep in mind that not only is Ukraine a big producer it is a big exporter of many of these crops.”
Just under 25 million tons of grains are stuck in Ukraine and are unable to leave the country due to infrastructure challenged and blocked ports on the Black Sea.
"It's an almost grotesque situation we see at the moment in Ukraine with nearly 25 million tons of grain that could be exported but that cannot leave the country simply because of lack of infrastructure, the blockade of the ports," Schmidhuber said.
Last week, the WTO’s Director General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, told Reuters that she was “seriously worried” about global food prices.
"It would really help the world if we could evacuate this grain (from Ukraine)," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. "There's a serious risk of food prices going up and spiraling out of affordability that could lead to more hunger."