ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: On July 19, the day after Russia made the unconscionable decision to pull out of the Black Sea Grain initiative, I spoke with a group of farmers at the Port of Odesa. Some told me how their fields had been riddled with landmines that the Russian military deployed to prevent the farming of arable Ukrainian land; others described how their land had been flooded after the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. And on top of all that, the Kremlin’s renewed Black Sea blockade was making it even harder to export the food that they’d fought so hard to grow. But still, they were determined – to keep earning a livelihood for their families, to keep powering Ukraine's economy, and to keep helping to feed the world.
Then, that very night, Russia bombed the port of Odesa, severely damaging the very buildings in which we had stood and had those discussions.
Since July, the Kremlin’s campaign of relentless attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea and Danube river ports have damaged more than 160 civilian infrastructure facilities and destroyed more than 300,000 tons of grain. These are obviously not military targets. The Russian military is carrying out a very deliberate strategy: attempting to destroy Ukrainian livelihoods, tank the Ukrainian economy, and deploy hunger as a weapon of war – exacerbating the global food crisis and inflicting further pain on communities around the world who are already struggling to get enough to eat.
But we know Ukrainian farmers will not let that happen. The people at this conference are not going to let it happen. And the United States will not let it happen.
In July 2022, USAID launched AGRI-Ukraine to bolster Ukraine’s agricultural production and help Ukraine’s farmers continue feeding the world in the face of Russia’s unprovoked war. To date, we’ve invested $350 million, mobilized an additional $250 million from partners, and we are now seeking to galvanize an additional $250 million in support from the private sector, foundations, and other donors.
The results of this work are remarkable. In partnership with the Ukrainian government and the transport and logistics industry, we are helping build up alternative transport routes via road, via rail, via river port. We are providing grain elevators and loading-equipment that helps speed the process of getting grain onto transport. We are helping increase the capacity of ports along the Danube River. And over the next three years, USAID will help upgrade border control points to export more grain.
Improvements to just the first nine border control points will increase Ukraine’s grain export capacity by an estimated 2.5 million tons a year and we plan to upgrade another 33 points after that. We are also eager to keep supporting Ukraine’s vital efforts to maintain the humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea so that some ships can still pass despite Russia’s continuing blockades.
USAID has also helped to create 1.5 million metric tons of grain storage that has helped thousands of Ukrainian farmers keep their grain from rotting as it waits to ship.
And we worked with private sector partners like Bayer and Corteva to help get over 30 percent of Ukraine’s farmers the financing, seeds, and fertilizer that they need to stay in business, so that farmers are still able to plant their next harvests.
These investments are going to help Ukraine’s extraordinary farmers stand up to Russia’s aggression. But they’re also an investment in Ukraine's long term future – in the breadbasket that will help feed the world for generations to come.
The United States has stood with Ukraine in your fight for freedom since the beginning, and we will continue to stand with you.