As Ukraine Struggles With Floodwaters, Russia Strikes Odesa

The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam this past week and the resulting loss of a vital reservoir in southern Ukraine threatens to leave hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland lacking water, a situation that could further ravage Ukraine’s agricultural industry and deepen a global food crisis.

The Kakhovka irrigation system — the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world — provided water to an area of more than 617,000 acres of farmland. That is now lost, according to a report by Ukraine’s State Agency of Recreation and Fisheries that was released on Friday.

More broadly, according to the report, the loss of the reservoir will affect irrigation systems that served 1.2 million acres of farmland that before Russia’s full-scale invasion allowed for the cultivation of crops such as corn, soybeans, rapeseed, wheat, eggplant, onions, peppers, cucumbers and others in large quantities in the dry southern steppes.

The United Nations’ top aid official, Under Secretary-General Martin Griffiths, said in an interview with The New York Times on Friday that the long-term consequences of the dam collapse and flooding were “extremely dire” and would have a direct impact on global food supply, because hundreds of thousands of acres of agriculture land were flooded and destroyed.

Ukraine is a leading exporter of grain, and the steep drop in its exports because of the war has led to concerns about food security for millions of people around the world. After the dam collapse this past week, global prices for wheat and corn rose amid fears about Ukraine’s continued ability to grow food for Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.

Wheat prices rose 2.4 percent in early trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, to $6.39 a bushel, and remained elevated at the end of the week. The cost of corn rose more than 1 percent, to $6.04 a bushel, and oats rose 0.73 percent, to $3.46 per unit.

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