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Food Security and Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: How USAID is Supporting Farmers

Nigerian woman in a field

Photo Credit: West Africa Trade and Investment Hub

February 24 marks the grim second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The invasion not only brought suffering to millions of Ukrainians, but had massive global impacts, including global food, fuel, and fertilizer shortages which contributed to historically high food prices and an unprecedented food crisis.

The United States responded by quickly providing more than $14.6 billion in humanitarian and development assistance across more than 47 countries, including some of the most severely impacted countries.  

For more than a decade, the United States, through the Feed the Future initiative, has made long-term investments that boost agricultural productivity, reduce hunger, and improve nutrition while enabling communities to cope with unexpected shocks. After Putin’s invasion, USAID built on this work to continue leveraging the private sector; boosting local fertilizer production; improving soil health and increasing food yields by helping farmers adopt climate-smart practices; reducing food loss and strengthening food market systems; and fighting and preventing malnutrition. 

Read on to learn more about how we are helping farmers, their families, and communities in Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria and Lebanon.

Supporting Farmers and Feeding School Children in Uganda 

In Uganda’s Karamoja region, Feed the Future is working to end hunger across the value chain from farmers to consumers by buying food from 1,300 smallholder Karamoja farmers then distributing the food to more than 300 area schools for student feeding programs so the children can have meals for better education outcomes. In recent years, access to food has become more challenging globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, supply chain shocks, regional conflicts, and Russia’s war with Ukraine. As a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the costs of distributing food to Karamoja schools increased by 157% between 2021 and 2022. In addition to these challenges, the schools were having issues with food safety and storage of the food and losing nearly a third of their food to theft, pests and exposure to the elements. The supplemental funds for Karamoja were invested into nearly 3,000 state-of-the-art food silos at the schools, which increased storage capacity by four percent and kept food safer for longer. 

Increasing Access to Inputs for Farmers in Malawi

In Malawi, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and resulting disrupted agricultural supply chains meant that the price of the staple grain, maize, more than doubled across a country where one in four people are facing moderate or severe chronic food insecurity. Feed the Future worked with local partners to tackle food insecurity, including an input loan program that helped more than 100,000 smallholder farmers increase their food production by linking them with critical inputs like certified seed, inoculants to boost soil health, and fertilizer. 

Partnering with the Private Sector for Impact in Nigeria

As a leading importer of fertilizer from Russia and Ukraine, the ongoing conflict has had a devastating effect on food security in Nigeria. Without affordable fertilizer, farmers will see declining yields and escalated food prices. To support the country’s farmers, Feed the Future started working with OCP Africa Fertilizers Nigeria Limited, a company that develops fertilizers customized to local conditions and crop needs, partnered to create Farm and Fortune Hubs that help smallholder farmers access fertilizer, seeds and crop protection products. In addition to the inputs, farmers also have access to training on good agricultural practices. The results so far have demonstrated higher crop yields for 74,000 smallholder farmers, half of them women, and lower food prices across Nigeria.

Elham El Hajj Hassan picks up farming supplies from the USAID Agricultural and Rural Empowerment (ARE) Activity. Photo Credit: USAID ARE Team

Distributing Critical Resources for Farmers in Lebanon

A myriad of factors, including COVID-19, geopolitical pressures, internal political instability and the 2020 Port of Beirut explosion, provoked hyperinflation and severe currency devaluation in Lebanon. The twin economic and food security crises were further compounded by the war in Ukraine, which impacted the accessibility and affordability of fertilizer and other inputs. In response, Feed the Future supplied 5,500 open-field farmers and 1,500 greenhouse growers with seeds, seedlings and locally sourced compost. Technical advisors have also provided tailored advice and training to farmers on best agricultural practices on pest management, using compost across seasons, and packing techniques that help reduce food loss and waste. Farmers were able to reduce their production costs by up to 30 percent and increase their income by 20 percent during the first production season. Supplemental funding also helped Lebanon shift dairy cow fodder to 100 percent local production. Animal feed represents up to u 80 percent of milk production costs in this country – which has the highest per capita dairy consumption in the world – and represents a significant burden for farmers, especially in the absence of a functioning banking system.  The shift to local production lowered costs and increased farmer access to this critical input.

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