Ukraine’s wheat production is likely to be down by at least a third from last year due to the Russian invasion, a data analysis firm that uses satellite imagery said Friday.
Ukraine is a major producer and exporter of wheat, but the invasion has disrupted planting, which is still underway, both due a lack of fuel for equipment and farmers having to deal bombardments and unexploded ordnance.
French firm Kayrros said near-infrared and infrared imagery allows for determination of crop coverage and can accurately predict wheat production.
“Production this year is expected to be at least 35% lower than last year,” analysis of the latest data showed, Kayrros said.
It forecast that at this stage, Ukraine will be capable of producing 21 million tons of wheat this year, a drop of 12 million tons from 2021, and a 23% drop from the average harvest over the past five years.
“Given that the fighting is ongoing and that a large part of the country’s wheat production comes from areas of eastern Ukraine where the conflict is most intense, the real production figures are likely to be lower than the current crop cover might suggest,” the firm added.
Kayrros analyzed images taken by the U.S. space agency NASA between April 14 and 22, less than two months after the start of the conflict.
Even if Ukrainian farmers manage to grow and harvest their wheat, they face difficulties getting it to market given that Russia has destroyed transportation infrastructure and blockaded the port of Odessa from which most grains were exported.
Before the war, Ukraine accounted for about 12% of the world’s wheat exports, and the conflict has sent the prices of food commodities soaring.