Ukraine is interested in increasing the number of humanitarian demining programmes initiated by international institutions and expanding existing ones. In particular, the joint project of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Fondation Suisse de Déminage (FSD) to clear small farmers’ land and support agricultural producers should be expanded. This was stated by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine Yuliia Svyrydenko at an online meeting with the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme Cindy McCain.
During the meeting, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine discussed the progress of the Government’s plans to prioritise the return of agricultural land to economic use. According to Yuliia Svyrydenko, the restoration of agricultural land is crucial for the recovery and further development of the Ukrainian economy. It is also important for world food security. Indeed, despite the war, Ukraine continues to supply food to countries on the brink of famine.
According to the First Deputy Prime Minister, Ukraine will bring back into use up to 35% of the 470,000 hectares of agricultural land identified for priority demining this year. To speed up the process – with more than 170,000 square kilometres of Ukraine potentially contaminated – the Government is working to strengthen the capacity of mine clearance operators. In particular, as Yuliia Svyrydenko noted, an account has been opened on the United24 platform in support of Ukraine, which will be used for humanitarian demining.
Yuliia Svyrydenko thanked Cindy McCain for the assistance provided by the UN World Food Programme to Ukrainians and for the implementation of programmes, particularly in support of the Ukrainian agricultural sector. Speaking about the smallholder demining programme launched last month by WFP, FAO and FSD, Yuliia Svyrydenko expressed hope that the project would soon be expanded to other regions.
“Initiatives such as the smallholder land demining project you are implementing in Kharkiv region are helping Ukraine to clear land more quickly and help farmers to grow crops on their land again. That is why we are interested in expanding the project to other regions and in more such initiatives from international institutions,” said Yuliia Svyrydenko.
In turn, Cindy McCain stressed that the UN World Food Programme fully supported Ukraine’s desire to clear the territories as soon as possible and would continue to provide assistance, including in the area of demining.
According to the WFP Executive Director, it is important that Ukrainian farmers do not lose another season.
The project of the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Fondation Suisse de Déminage (FSD) was launched in June in Kharkiv region on a pilot basis. It involves clearing explosive ordnance from the land of small farmers with plots of up to 300 hectares. The project will be expanded to Mykolaiv and Kherson regions in the future. The USD 100 million project requires USD 90 million in funding. According to FAO and WFP estimates, the economic benefits of the project could be up to USD 60 million per year.