08:46 Friday, March 3, 2023 (GMT+7) Time in Jakarta
The Biden administration is partnering with three agricultural companies in an effort to boost Ukraine’s agricultural sector and help supply the country's grain to the world, according to officials from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The initiative is part of a broader push to strengthen Ukraine's economy and address the global food security crisis. Ukraine is considered a crucial bread-basket for much of the world, with agriculture generating more than 40% of the country's total export revenues. However, the country's economy contracted by over 30% in 2022 after Russia's invasion destroyed infrastructure, hurt businesses, and disrupted daily life.
USAID's partnerships with Grain Alliance, Kernel, and Nibulon are expected to increase Ukraine's grain shipping capacity by more than three million tons annually, with the companies investing $44 million to support storage and infrastructure expansion in the country's agriculture sector. Earlier this year, USAID also donated high-quality vegetable seeds to Ukrainian farmers to help address the crisis created by Russia's full-scale invasion. Through the AGRI-Ukraine program, nearly 30% of Ukraine's registered farmers have benefited from seeds, fertilizers, crop protection, storage, access to financing, and other services, helping over 13,600 farmers deliver this year's harvest and plant winter crops.
However, a Black Sea grain deal enabling Ukrainian ships carrying agriculture products to depart the country is set to expire later this month, and Russia has not agreed to extend the vital agreement. "Today, Russia is again slow-walking the export of food from Ukraine, and with the Black Sea initiative set to expire on March 18, Russia has refused to commit to renewing it," warned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The new investments from USAID and its partners will target multiple terminals in Ukraine and Slovakia, where an increase in grain exports is expected, involving the renovation of areas where vessels are loaded. USAID's funding is being used to purchase grain loading equipment, temporary storage structures, and remanufactured locomotives for use in Ukraine.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently visited Kyiv to announce the transfer of $1.25 billion in economic and budgetary assistance and to reaffirm the United States' support of Ukraine. Yellen acknowledged the toll of the ongoing conflict on Ukraine's economy and stated that securing investments in Ukraine's agriculture sector is even more vital. "We will see an increasing toll on Russia’s economic trajectory over time," she said. "And their ability to replenish the military equipment that’s been destroyed in their attacks on Ukraine, that’s been very greatly jeopardized."
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Photo by Alex Rusin: https://www.pexels.com/photo/combine-harvesting-on-a-cropland-5114779/