The regional manager of IFC says that climate change is threatening the Ukrainian farmers and agricultural output.
Climate change is a real problem in Ukraine. That is the message from Jason Pellmar, the regional manager for Ukraine at International Finance Corporation (IFC), in a lengthy interview with Interfax Ukraine. He says that climate change is a priority for IFC because of its threat to the agricultural sector.
Pellmar hopes that these problems will force Ukraine to develop and adjust.
“Now, because the climate is so much more in focus, we are seeing more innovations. Today, the global community is looking at much more than just energy resource conservation. Some examples include technological innovations, such as agritech, precision farming, and no-till or low-till agriculture,” Pellmar said.
“A wider adoption of climate-smart technologies, such as precision agriculture or better use of non-renewable resources, can reduce soil carbon loss and provide significant fuel savings that will directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Pellmar and added: “Moreover, using drones can help convey a clearer sense of the lay of the land and ensure better use of fertilizers and insecticides.”
A record harvest on the way
According to agriculture.com, new numbers from the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture show that Ukraine has harvested 49.4 million tonnes of grain so far this year with a yield of about 4.41 tonnes per hectare. It is still short of the volumes last year, but with good weather, Ukraine might harvest a total of 80.6 million tonnes, which is much more than the total of 65 million tonnes last year.
But while this year’s harvest looks good, it might not be the case in the future if nothing is done to adjust to climate change. Ukrainenu has recently written extensively about the problems facing the Ukrainian agricultural sector. The Ukrainian agricultural sector stands for around 10 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 22 percent of the population.
Anna Ackermann, a board member of the organization Ecoaction Center for Environmental Initiatives, which fights for a green future without CO2, sounded the alarm in an article at the Atlantic Council last year.
“Ukraine’s role as a growing agricultural superpower leaves the country particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of a changing environment. Over the last few decades, the Kyiv climate has gradually migrated south. Winters have become milder, and summers are now much warmer. The weather in the Ukrainian capital is increasingly similar to Odesa in the middle of the twentieth century without the benefit of the Black Sea breeze,” she wrote and mentioned that Ukraine needs to do more to adjust, such as focussing on certain crops and modernize.
That advice was echoed in a new study called “Ukrainian agriculture: challenges and ways of development under climate change.”
“Under the conditions of climate change, an important factor in improving the efficiency of agriculture is a strict distribution of arable land between separate crops with regard to climate change. One of the important measures to improve the crop pattern is to include so-called “niche” crops, which have a significant potential for diversification of the oilseed and grain pattern, which dominates the crops in southern Ukraine,” it reads.
IFC believes in green financing
Pellmar from IFC says that he believes that Ukraine also needs to consider supporting farmers in the transition with cheap loans.
“Due to years of underinvestment and degradation of the water supply system, Ukraine’s irrigation infrastructure currently operates at just one-quarter of its potential capacity,” says Pellmar, “The goal of the initiative is to work with Ukraine’s government and financial institutions to help provide access to cost-effective green financing and to look at the sector holistically. We will develop viable business models to mobilize more private sector resources for the main channels followed by distribution channels and on-farm irrigation.”
“We have already seen the kind of impact droughts can have on this sector: in 2020, the country lost nearly 400,000 hectares of winter crops due to severe droughts. According to forecasts, if this trend continues without efforts to improve Ukraine’s irrigation system, the predicted loss can be up to 40%. So, the earlier we work to address the issue, the better,” he added.
Minister of Agrarian Policy Roman Leshchenko recently told the Ukrainian media outlet Ukrinform that the government provides farmers with cheap loans.
“We have launched a very powerful program 5-7-9, which has provided more than a billion dollars in cheap loans for Ukrainian farmers to upgrade fixed assets, to invest,” he said, referring to loan packages of 5, 7, or 9 percent.