Russia-Ukraine war: Farmers’ growing concerns

The domestic agricultural sector and South African farmers in both the Ukraine and Russia are set to become war casualties.

South African farmers in warring Ukraine and Russia are at each other’s throats, with each group believing in the cause of their respective countries.

This is according to the president of the World Farmers’ Organisation, Theo de Jager.

WATCH:World Farmers’ Organisation president Theo de Jager tells Izak du Plessis how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is affecting South African farmers both at home and in the warring countries.

“Farmers are always patriotic and loyal and they are always the last to leave when there is a war. We have seen it in World War I, the Second World War and many other wars. And now we are seeing it again. While people are fleeing the towns and cities, the farmers are going nowhere,” says De Jager.

And although they live on different sides of the border, their lives have been equally impacted by the invasion.

They have crops in the fields, are preparing the soil for the new season, and have livestock to nurture, and the war is disrupting their operations, he says.

“Tanks and military convoys, for example, are moving through their fields and across their pastures. They run out of fuel and demand supplements from the farmers, who have become the first line of confrontation with the moving convoys,” says De Jager.

No market access

Accessing markets is an area of great concern for farmers. According to De Jager, wars cause markets to explode. However, while demand for food becomes high, the logistics of getting produce to where it is needed is challenging. The situation has been worsened by the trade sanctions imposed on Russia by many countries.

“It is not possible to get the surpluses to the places where there are deficits, even though you have this massive demand right next door to Russia,” says De Jager.

While this makes life very difficult for South African farmers in both Ukraine and Russia, farmers in South Africa are also impacted. Regular exporters to Russia, particularly citrus farmers, have lost their market access, he says.

“In agricultural terms, the downstream value chain has been disrupted and farmers are desperately looking for new markets, on the one hand, and on the other hand, new lines of logistics.”

Forecasters have warned that food prices in South Africa could soar as a result of the conflict.

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