Returning about 208,000 hectares of the most fertile land to farmers. Strengthening the capacities of government institutions such as the State Emergency Service and the State Special Transport Service. Accelerated development of domestic production of demining equipment and machinery. Creation of a powerful pool of international donors and the assistance already received by Ukraine. These and other results of work in 2023 in the field of demining were presented by Yuliia Svyrydenko, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Ukraine.
“We started 2023 with not very encouraging figures – not a single heavy demining vehicle, 6 mine action operators, 1,500 deminers. The new year we started with almost 30 vehicles, 26 operators and more than 3,000 deminers. And with the commitment of our partners that they are ready to invest nearly half a billion euros in humanitarian demining in Ukraine. Some partner countries and international organisations have already started to allocate these funds,” said Yuliia Svyrydenko.
Thanks to the strengthening of the capacities of government institutions and an increase in the number of operators, the survey and clearance of areas has accelerated throughout the year.
According to Yuliia Svyrydenko, while 174,000 km² of Ukrainian territory was considered potentially dangerous at the beginning of 2023, today, as a result of mine action, 156,000 km² remain so. That is, 18,000 km² of fields, forests, and water areas have been returned to people’s use thanks to the work of specialists.
The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy highlighted the results of the survey and clearance of agricultural land identified for priority return to economic use.
Over the past year, deminers of the State Emergency Service, the State Special Transport Service and private operators have inspected 274,000 hectares of agricultural land, which is 58% of the four-year plan. 208,000 hectares of these lands have already been transferred to farmers. Taking the national average wheat yield in 2023 as an example, the returned lands can grow almost one million tonnes of grain, said Yuliia Svyrydenko. According to the prices of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), this is more than USD 225 million (UAH 8.4 billion) if the grain is sold abroad. Or about 750,000 tonnes of flour if the grain is processed in Ukraine. Or about 6 million loaves of bread on store shelves every day for a year. If sunflowers were planted on the cleared land, domestic producers could make about 266 million 850 ml bottles of oil from the seeds.
On the land returned to economic use, farmers grew various crops.
“Last year, we again had Kherson watermelons, Mykolaiv tomatoes and peppers on our tables. Priority demining of vegetable growing land allowed us to ensure domestic consumption of vegetables. And the kutia or pampukhs we tasted on Christmas Day were probably made from wheat grown on the mine-free lands of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions. First of all, I would like to thank the deminers of the State Emergency Service, the State Special Transport Service and Ukrainian and international non-governmental operators for this,” Yuliia Svyrydenko emphasised.
According to the First Deputy Prime Minister, there is still a lot of work to be done. The goal is to return 80% of potentially mined areas to use within 10 years. In 2023, important steps were taken to achieve this goal:
Ukraine attracts and uses innovative approaches. For example, algorithms for mapping contaminated land, including the use of satellite imagery. It also uses drones, state-of-the-art technical devices, and artificial intelligence.
“Thanks to our joint work this year, we will be able to clear our land of russian mines even faster,” said Yuliia Svyrydenko.