Grain prices are surging on world markets as a direct consequence of Putin’s war in Ukraine. Ukraine has long been known as the “breadbasket of Europe” and is one of the world’s top grain exporters, crucial to providing nourishment and preventing famine particularly in the developing the world. It is also the source of much of the flour for white bread production in western Europe.
There’s currently 20 million tonnes of grain languishing in Ukrainian storage facilities. That grain needs to urgently get out to the world market, in order to increase the supply that will then lead to prices falling. The railways have an essential role in bringing Ukrainian agricultural goods out via neighbouring countries to the rest of the world. Mining of the Black Sea and the Russian occupation and blockade of Ukrainian harbours means shipping lanes are unusable, restricting trade with other countries. The only option is to send the grain West by rail. The Support Ukraine Rail Task Force is urging all rail market players both in Europe and around the world to participate in a “Solidarity Lanes” initiative. Getting the 20 million tonnes of grain out and getting fertiliser and supplies back in, will be crucial for the economic future of Ukraine and the world’s food security…
The world’s food security has been further endangered by the Russian military’s destruction of the world’s largest National Gene Bank in Kharkiv. The bank kept more than 160,000 varieties of plant seeds and hybrids of agricultural crops worldwide. These seeds were stored so that future generations of humanity could restore them in the event of disaster. Among the destroyed samples were many that no longer exist in Europe and the world.
UPDATE 26 May, 2022: According to the Economist, the gene bank survived underground, the offices above were destroyed.