ROME — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on July 4 announced it has launched a new $17 million project to help Ukrainian farmers save the upcoming harvest in July and August while ensuring export of critical agricultural goods to international markets.

Funded by Japan and implemented jointly with the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, the project aims to restore grain storage capacity and functionality of supply chains in the war-torn country from harvest to export as well as maintain productive capacity of Ukrainian farmers to enable continued future productions.

“Ukraine’s farmers are feeding themselves, their communities and millions more people around the world,” said Rein Paulsen, director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience. “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.”

Ukraine is one of the top-five global grain exporters, supplying more than 45 million tonnes of grain yearly to the global market. According to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, due to the blockage of Black Sea ports, the country still has 18 million tonnes of last year’s cereals and oilseeds harvest in stores waiting for export. Alternative rail and river routes cannot make up for the lost exports through maritime transportation and bottlenecks along new, potential supply chains that have yet to be resolved.

This season Ukraine is expecting to harvest up to 60 million tonnes of grain. But the lack of export does not allow for the opening of available storage space for the new harvest, since 30% of the available capacity of granaries remain filled with last year’s harvest.

“Within the new Japan-funded project, FAO will address storage deficit by providing the polyethylene grain sleeves, grain loading and unloading machinery to the smallholders and a variety of modular storage containers to the medium-sized producers and associations,” said Pierre Vauthier, head of FAO Ukraine Country Office. “Support will be provided to the farmers from ten oblasts of Ukraine: in the east, center, south and north of the country.”

In addition, the project will provide technical support to the government to operationalize alternative transport routes for grain export and foster the rapid expansion of technical capacity of the Izmail laboratory. The facility will enable farmers to meet international standards including veterinary and food safety testing and certification.

The FAO has been operating in Ukraine since 2003 and since 2015 focused its activities on emergency support and development projects.

Following the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, the FAO has developed and updated its Rapid Response Plan, calling for $115.4 million in funding to provide support to almost 980 000 small farmers and medium-size producers through December 2022.