ROME, ITALY — Canada on Aug.  3 announced it is donating $40 million through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to address grain storage shortages in Ukraine.

The initiative will allow storage of an additional 2.4 million tonnes of grain during the 2022-23 marketing year along with related technical support and equipment, the FAO said. The move follows Japan’s $17 million donation in July to cover 1 million tonnes of grain storage.

One of the world’s largest grain producers and exporters, Ukraine has struggled to export grain from its 2021-22 harvest since it was invaded by Russia on Feb. 24. Until recently, its Black Sea ports had been blockaded by Russia, leaving more than 20 million tonnes of grain sitting in storage. A brokered deal between the two countries on July 22 has allowed Ukraine to start shipping grain from the ports.

With one of the world’s biggest grain exporters on the sideline, global grain and food prices have soared during the last five months as has food insecurity, particularly in developing countries that are highly dependent on grain from the Black Sea region.

This season, with the harvest of winter crops starting in July and spring crops beginning later in the year, Ukraine is expecting to harvest up to 51.1 million tonnes of grain. Out of a total storage capacity of 75 million tonnes, 14% of storage facilities are damaged or destroyed, 10% are located in Russian-occupied territories and around 30% remain filled with 22 million tonnes of last year’s harvest awaiting export, according to the Ukrainian government.

“Given the unprecedented storage challenges this year, innovative solutions are required at scale,” said Rein Paulsen, director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience. “For this reason, support to the sector will remain in high demand, likely into 2023. FAO is responding immediately to this situation while taking a longer-term view and looking to invest in durable solutions that build on sectoral capacity, in coordination with the government at national and local levels.”

The recently developed Grain Storage Support Strategy — an extension to the FAO Ukraine Rapid Response Plan (RRP) — aims to support the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine to cover 4.07 million tonnes, or 25%, of the total estimated national storage deficit of 16 million tonnes in 2022-23. The strategy also includes the support of the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection to process and export agricultural products from Ukraine, by strengthening government capacity for food commodity testing and certifications necessary for export at border facilities.

The immediate impact of the strategy will be an expansion and immediate availability of storage capacity at this critical harvest time for Ukrainian producers of grain and oilseeds, while the longer-term impact will be in sustaining global food supplies, the FAO said.

To date, with the additional funds from Canada, the FAO said it has raised $70.4 million against the total of $180.4 million needed under the Rapid Response Plan and Grain Storage Support Strategy.