“An idiot like Putin will destroy lives,” the anger of this Ukrainian wheat producer

“An idiot like Putin will destroy lives,” the anger of this Ukrainian wheat producer

Volodymyr’s sheds are full here, on farms around Kryvyi Rihu, about fifty kilometers from the Kherson front, in the south of Ukraine. “Come on, I’ll show you the wheat so you can understand our misfortune. It is our pride and pain. It’s golden. And it’s a shame that an idiot like Putin is destroying lives: he’s the one who voluntarily provokes world famineHe accuses.

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And for good reason, this farmer finds himself with about 5,000 tons of wheat, which have now lost half their value and which are currently finding no recipient. A few months ago, however, this cereal producer exported its production via the ports of Odessa, Mykolaiv and Kherson.

80% of grain exports to Ukraine went by sea Today everything stopped. We tried by train, but the waiting list is long, for us only in December. We can’t go by train, we won’t be able to follow orders …He sighs.

Just before the war, Ukraine was on its way to becoming the world's third largest exporter of wheat and itself accounted for half of world trade in sunflower seeds and oil.  (THIBAULT LEFEVRE / RADIOFRANCE)

Russia, which attacked its neighbor on February 24, is blocking Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, preventing the export of these cereals, which fed 400 million people last year. The United Nations is also conducting intensive and discreet talks to free these tens of millions of tons of Ukrainian cereals and thus prevent the global food crisis, said the UN coordinator in Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian Grain Association, which brings together grain producers and exporters, ten million tonnes are still stored in the silos. Before the conflict, the country was the world’s fourth largest exporter of maize, on its way to becoming the world’s third largest exporter of wheat, and in itself accounted for 50% of world trade in sunflower seeds and oil before the conflict.

In these halls, Volodymyr's grain harvest awaits export abroad: the producer has stored more than 5,000 tons of wheat.  (THIBAULT LEFEVRE / RADIOFRANCE)

The situation is all the more urgent as another harvest comes soon. And yet, despite the war, Volodymyr continues to sow. This wheat will be the beginning of the school year, barley, in October. And right now it’s a sunflower.

This wheat was sown last fall, before the war. We just sown sunflowers, but twice less than last yearexplains Volodymyr. We do not take risks because the future is uncertain. So we work … We are farmers, we cultivate the land and we still have hope because our survival depends on it. The villagers believe that common sense will prevail and this catastrophe can be stopped. “

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And then there are the skyrocketing prices of gasoline and fertilizers: Volodymyr is expected to lose 50 to 60% of its revenue this year. He has to pay more than 600,000 euros until next autumn under a zero-interest loan guaranteed by Kyiv.

War in Ukraine: anger of wheat growers in the south of the country at the microphone Thibault Lefèvre and Alexandre Abergel


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