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Ukraine fears losing millions of tons of crops after dam collapse

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KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine could lose several million tons of crops because of flooding caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the south of the country, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

“Without a source of water supply, it is impossible to grow vegetables. Grain and oilseeds will be grown using an extensive model with low yields,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the dam’s destruction would flood tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land in southern Ukraine and could turn at least 500,000 hectares of land left without irrigation into “deserts”.

The ministry said the flooded land would require a full agro-ecological assessment of the soil condition and in most cases special soil restoration methods would need to be applied.

It said vegetables, melons, grains and oilseeds were the main products which were grown on the affected land.

Ukraine is a major global grain and oilseeds grower and exporter.

The destruction of the dam on Tuesday, which Ukraine and Russia blame on each other, has also made it impossible to navigate parts of the Dnipro River and deprived Kyiv of an important agricultural export route, shipping authorities said.

Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky also said the farm sector’s losses could be much higher than previously expected because the disaster inflicted “years” of damage on irrigation.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Sharon Singleton)

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