ReportIn ten years, Ukraine has become one of the world’s leading grain exporters. A formidable agricultural logistics seized by the Russian invasion launched on February 24th. The blockade of the Black Sea threatens the food security of many countries that buy wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower, barley from kyiv…
These grains of wheat that Boris Z. slips between his fingers, in the shadow of his warehouse in Velyka Mykhailivka, in the Odessa region, should have been sold and ended up, precious starch, precious calories, in the stomach of an Egyptian, a Tunisian or a Lebanese child, after sailing in the holds of a giant freighter on the Black Sea, in the Bosphorus Strait, on the Mediterranean, and beyond. Because of the war, these wheats remained in the steel sheds, by the hundreds of tons, and Boris Z. let his thoughts slip away sadly like the grain which flows. ” Tomorrow ?he asks himself. I don’t know what the future will hold. My horizon stops at the day after. » The 38-year-old farmer, father of two children, who left to take refuge abroad with their mother, does not want to give his name, and it is easy to understand.
With his hand, he points to his fields in the distance, which border the border with Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist territory in Moldova, northwest of Odessa, where 1,500 soldiers are stationed under the orders of President Putin. A handful of grains in his hand, with this peasant gesture which weighs with gravity for millennia, Boris Z. expresses his fear of the future for his country and for the planet: “I had illusions before, like everyone else. War is hitting us Ukrainians, but Putin has declared a war against the whole world and food is a terrible weapon. »
Under the April sun, the entrepreneur follows with his eyes the seed drill which advances with the regularity of a jewel of technology, controlled by GPS, on his land ready for spring sowing – 13 kilometers traveled per hour, a sunflower seed placed every 20 centimeters under 5 centimeters of soil. With its 3,000 hectares, a considerable area in France but average for Ukraine, the thirty permanent employees of Boris Z. produce more than 10,000 tonnes of wheat and sunflower. In times of peace, a noria of trucks comes to load the seeds, washed, dried, transported to the immense steel silos of Odessa, Youjné, Tchornomorsk or Mykolaiv, the ports of the Black Sea, where they will be embarked.
The winter wheat, planted at the end of 2021, has already largely grown on this black soil, called “chernozem”, among the most fertile in the world, rich in humus, potash, nitrogen and trace elements. By July, the fields will take on the yellow color, that of the Ukrainian flag, under the blue of the sky. This will mean that, sun-kissed, plants will have acquired those caloric values that have fed billions of humans since our species ceased to be hunter-gatherers. But can these wheats be harvested? In what proportion? At what cost? And, above all, how will they cross the thousands of kilometers which separate them from Africa, the Middle East or Asia, if Russia persists in blocking the ports of the Black Sea?
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