THE DANGER faced by Ukrainian farmers attempting to plant and harvest crops was highlighted in data released by the Ukrainian Agri Council that found Ukrainian farmers were dying each week as a result of the mining of agricultural land.
Andriy Dykun, head of the Ukrainian Agri Council, said an area of 174,000 square kilometres, or over three quarters the area of Victoria, was contaminated with mines.
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He said Ukrainian officials could not keep up with demand for demining of farm areas so either farmers had to risk their lives to grow crops or leave paddocks fallow, raising the risk of food security issues, both in Ukraine and further afield.
The eastern and south-eastern oblasts, or provinces, of Kharkiv, Kherson and Mykolaiv are some of the hardest hit, with Mr Dykun saying some large-scale farmers in Kherson did not plant a spring crop due to the high risk of mines.
More than 208,000 hectares need to be surveyed for mines in Kherson, almost 160,000ha in Kharkiv and more than 85,000ha in Mykolaiv.
It is not only grain crops impacted, with Kherson an important horticultural region.
"Kherson region used to have the largest vegetable market in Europe," said Ihor Yosypenko, a fellow member of the UAC.
"This year we will not see any Kherson watermelons or vegetables, and maybe a small amount of sunflower and grain."
"Out of the entire Kherson region, only the Right Bank has a small amount of land that is not heavily mined."
Mr Dykun said there were flow-on food security risks from the mining.
"This is the land that is a source of food for about 81 million people around the world."
Currently, the cost of de-mining ranges from $US600 to $US3500 per hectare, meaning struggling farmers cannot afford it.
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