Ukraine farmers fear for war-time harvest

STORY: Ukrainian farmers are struggling to export their goods following Russia's invasion of the country.

Volodymyr Onyschuk owns a 2,000-hectare farm that ships its grains through Mykolaiv Port.

His wheat and sunflower crops are ready for harvest.

But his farmers are afraid to drive their tractors over the remains of Russian munitions scattered in the fields.

“We have collected these in the fields on March 29 when we went out there. Deminers inspected the area because tractor operators would not work, they said: "We will not go to the fields until you collect the mines, bombs and other things."”

Russia's invasion - which it calls a 'special military operation' - has put major pressure on Ukraine's grain exports.

Bombs have damaged infrastructure, while key Black Sea ports have been blockaded - meaning grain is leaving Ukraine at a much lower rate than usual.

That's led to soaring prices, and Western countries have accused Russia of creating the risk of a global famine.

"70 per cent of our grain export was through the sea ports. In the past thirty years, many ports were built and reconstructed in the country's south for this purpose, but unfortunately, all of them are blockaded now, and many vessels remain blockaded in the ports since February 24."

Ukraine said Monday its grain harvest would likely fall to around 48.5 million tonnes this year - down from 86 million a year before.

With the challenges seen at sea ports, the country is largely trying to transport by road and rail.

Efforts led by Turkey to negotiate a safe passage for grain stuck in the Black Sea ports have not yet produced a breakthrough.

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