KIEV (Middle East Eye) – Fingers are pointed in Ukraine and Russia, as both countries accuse the other of having caused the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam as water burst from the structure on Tuesday flooding homes and agricultural fields across Ukraine’s southeast.
But the impact goes further much further afield, a result of Ukraine’s status as one of the world’s leading producers of agricultural crops such as wheat and barley.
Flooding from the Kakhovka Dam, in Ukraine’s Kherson region, has already led to a spike in global crop prices, with wheat up 2.4 percent on Tuesday, and corn up one percent, before coming down slightly by Thursday.
Analysts have now said that the Middle East will feel the effect of the damage to agricultural produce in a region that has become a breadbasket for the world, much as it did when exports slowed at the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year.
Fadel el-Zubi, a former representative in Iraq for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, told Middle East Eye that flooding from the dam would severely hinder Kherson’s ability to produce grain.
“The floods will end agriculture in the area and hinder fish farming, and prevent farmers from accessing the lands,” Zubi said. “Plus, chemicals and pollution will seep into the water, and we could see mines move to the surface and detonate.”
UN economists believe that this year’s wheat, barley, and rapeseed harvest in Ukraine’s southern areas will be completely lost as a result of the flooding.
But crops planted in spring, such as maize, soybeans, and sunflowers could survive if the flooding subsides.
Kakhovka is a Soviet-era dam sitting on the Dnipro River. Water stored in the dam was used to supply farms growing fruits, grains, and wheat.
It held a colossal 18 cubic kilometers of water that was also used for the nearby hydroelectric power plant and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
Hussam Ayesh, a Jordanian economic expert, told MEE that the affected winter harvest cannot be replaced, meaning grain prices in the Middle East can be expected to rise.
Wheat is a lifeline for Egypt, with the country’s 100-million-strong population heavily reliant on bread as a staple food.