Kakhovka dam destruction to have devastating impact on grain production

13-06-2023 | |
Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

The disastrous bursting of the Kakhovka dam is likely to turn large grain fields into deserts, the Ukrainian farmers association Ukrainian Agri Council warned.

The technological disaster will cut off the water supply to 31 irrigation systems in the Dnipro, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions, from which farmers harvested about 4 million tons of grains and oilseeds worth about $1.5 billion in 2021.

Andriy Dykun, chairman of the Ukrainian Agri Council, stated that flooding and restricted access to water due to the breach in the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant will have a devastating impact on agricultural production in southern Ukraine, especially grain and vegetable production.

“Ukraine will lose 14% of its agricultural production, or well over 3 million tons of grain grown in the south. This jeopardizes the world’s food security, as a shortfall in grain from the southern regions will reduce Ukraine’s export potential,” Dykun said, adding that a recent 3% rise in global wheat prices to some extent was a market reaction to the dam destruction.

The Kakhovka plant disaster will lead to catastrophic losses in the industry, and it will take years to recover.

Ukrainian Agri Council

Most farmers in the region will have to switch to the fallow farming format when half of the field is sown, and the other half is kept under steam for a year and accumulates moisture.

Total damage is not yet known

“It is unclear when the water will eventually recede, what losses will be incurred by farms – both private and commercial – how many animals will die, whether there will be epidemics, and the extent of pollution, but we can say exactly that the consequences of this man-made disaster will be felt not only in Ukraine,” Dykun said.

Dykun estimated that 450 tonnes of machine oil from the plant’s transformers got into the water. The soil that will be exposed after the water is drained from the reservoir will dry out. Given the hot and dry summer, this will lead to sandstorms.

Aquaculture sector may not recover

Not only the grain industry will suffer dire consequences from the Kakhovka dam destruction. Losses to the fishing industry from the death of adult fish alone could reach 95,000 tonnes, or about $1 billion. In total, according to preliminary estimates, losses from the death of all bioresources will amount to up to $2.5 billion.

Farmers believe that agriculture in the region would not be able to fully recover until the Kakhovka dam is rebuilt, which would take 5 years and at least $1 billion of investments.

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