President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine's harvest this year could be half its usual amount because of the Russian invasion, in comments likely to intensify fears of global hunger, media reports said.
"Ukrainian harvest this year is under the threat to be twice less," the Ukrainian leader wrote on Twitter in English, The Guardian reported. His country's main goal, Zelenskiy said, was to prevent a global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion.
His comments came as it emerged that the owner of one of Ukraine's largest agricultural companies had been killed in the shelling of the strategically important southern city of Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea.
Before the invasion, Ukraine was known as the breadbasket of Europe, a key supplier for countries in north Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. When Russia attacked, it blockaded Ukraine's ports, stoking a worldwide grain shortage that has caused the UN to warn of looming hunger catastrophe.
In 2021, Ukraine produced 80 mn metric tonnes of grain, including wheat, corn and barley, enough to feed 400 million people for six months, according to a video tweeted by Zelenskiy. This year Ukraine is on course to harvest and ship less than half of that amount, the video said, The Guardian reported.
Zelenskiy said last week that Ukraine was ready for grain ships to travel through its waters but it was awaiting the green light from the UN and Turkey. Under an agreement signed on July 22, the UN and Turkey have guaranteed the safe passage of ships carrying grain from three Ukrainian ports.