Ukraine’s agriculture minister has resigned, a month after Russia launched a war that has affected spring crop sowing and forced one of the world’s largest grain producers to halt the export of some farm products.
An aide confirmed Roman Leshchenko had submitted his resignation but gave no reason.
Ukraine’s parliament later announced that MPs had voted to approve the appointment of senior lawmaker Mykola Solskyi as Leshchenko’s replacement.
Solskyi is widely seen as an important figure behind reforms that opened the land market in Ukraine last year, lifting a longstanding ban on the sale of farmland.
The move was intended by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to unlock opportunities for investment in the agriculture sector although Russia’s invasion may sharply reduce the 2022 harvest and exports in the 2022-23 season.
Leshchenko told Reuters in an interview this week that Ukraine’s spring crop sowing area may more than halve this year from 2021 levels to seven million hectares versus 15 million hectares expected before the Russian invasion.
Leshchenko said farmers sowed a total of 6.5 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2022 harvest but the harvested area could be only about four million hectares due to war in many Ukrainian regions.
He declined to forecast the 2022 grain harvest because “the situation has not fully stabilised,” he said.
“The territory of hostilities is constantly moving, and we hope that there will be some changes in the situation in terms of achieving peace, and we will be able to plant at least late crops in those areas that are now in the war zone,” he said.
Ukraine has already suspended exports of rye, oats, millet, buckwheat, salt, sugar, meat and livestock since the invasion and introduced licences for wheat, corn and sunflower oil exports.