Help needed: Developing short food supply chains in Ukraine
As the sad war in Ukraine enters its sad 7th week, food activists in- and outside of the country try to establish a somewhat secure food supply for the many harassed cities and communities. One such collective effort has come to our attention only yesterday when a researcher at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, posted a query in the Food for Cities online community.
We would like to share and record the conversation that followed the query over a day because it is being conducted at such a high level of knowledge, strategic thinking, helpfulness and humanism and because, we believe, it shows what our developed international food system network and discourse can do today that it probably could not have done only a few years ago.
We do hope sincerely that it will help reducing hunger in Ukraine while building confidence, and we do plead for this war to be stopped immediately.
On 07/04/2022 09:04, Jessica Duncan wrote:
Help needed: expertise on developing short food supply chains in conflict zones (Ukraine)
I was approached by colleagues working in the Ukraine and hoping to support the establishment of short supply chains in cities. They have been helping with humanitarian but recognize this is not be sustainable.
The people in question are working with some municipalities where they hope to develop short food supply chains in the new dimension which is impacted by:
* Influx of Internally displaced people form East of Ukraine (larger number of citizens in municipalities receiving IDPs).
* Smaller agri activities in the municipalities affected with war and in those not affected due to lack of supply,
* Changed logistics and pressure of prices to logistics,
* Weak purchase power of people who are affected with war and economy shrink,
* Other to be further elaborated.
I am now way out of my field of expertise. Does anyone on this list happen to know of any some examples and maybe some people that would be able to participate in preparation of the first response of municipalities to the food supply chains? They are also open to those with experience working in areas affected by other external shocks (earthquake…).
For now, they have no idea yet how to finance the process but they do have access to municipalities and some force on the ground (in Ukraine) willing to step in and collaborate with municipalities.
If anyone has ideas, please do let me know.
Jessica Duncan, PhD | Rural Sociology | Wageningen University
On 07/04/2022 11:04, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
thanks for sharing this message within the Dgroup.
I never worked in non-ordinary situations but considering how critical the situation in Ukraine is I can’t ignore your message.
I am an Industrial Biotechnologist with 10 years international experience in the development of *Sustainable Solutions *for the circularization of the productions line in the Agribusiness Sector. Independently or through some organizations I design,realize and educate on the use of custom made solutions for the control, reduction and *valorization *of any organic waste resource locally available, such as *animal, plant and human by-products*, into a valuable bioproduct that according to the conditions, the organic matter available and the needs could be a:
– *Thermal energy source* for heating greenhouses or rural houses without any burning process involved
– *Biodiversity and nutrient rich compost* for the cultivated land and for soft bioremediation of those areas burned and polluted
– *Feed high in proteins and fat* ideal for any common livestock farming
– *Food high in proteins*, vitamins and immunitary system enhancing molecules.
Just let me know if my support can be beneficial for those projects operating in Ukraine you are in contact with.
If you need further details do not hesitate to write.
*Saverio Danubio* *Waste Bio-Transformation Specialist*
On 07/04/2022 11:04, Ryan.email@example.com wrote:
While I am not an expert on food supply chains, I do remember several interventions that were used in hard to reach/Besieged areas in Syria.
First was focusing on gardening (at difference scales) as a medium term response to increase available food when access was cut off. Secondly, there was a stabilization programme that focused on bread/flour with community bakeries. A third, and quite difficult due to health risks, was a hot meal programme for displaced populations or those without access to regular food sources. I also remember something on food sharing/storage/preparation practices as well, though not the specifics.
Otherwise in both Syria and Iraq, following the targeting of agricultural/civilian assets, there were attempts to relocate all grains, processing equipment (storage, generators, fuel, agents, etc.), and related material (fertilizers, treatments, etc.), either away from the conflict through establishing/refurbishing new facilities or decentralizing it in hard to reach/besieged areas to minimize losses.
I am looking for some of the programme documentation and have reached out to former colleagues. Unsure if this will be helpful, though I will see what I can find. Let me know if this of interest.
Food Security Analyst, IPC Global Support Unit (IPC GSU), Hosted at FAO-UN, FAO-HQs
On 07/04/2022 12:04, Judith Hitchman wrote:
Dear Jessica and all
Pavlo (copied) an Ukranian, in Ukraine, and works on permaculture, and is linked to Urgenci. I am also copying our European network mebers list.
Obviously nature takes its own time, and you can not grow food overnight.
But perhaps small community gardens and backyards (where possible…) could be part of such a response.
I am copying Sofia Burtak as well. She is also from Ukraine, and works on cooperatives. She and Pavlo would be the ideal people to help coordinate. But is this possible right now?
As you know, Urgenci has a lot of short chain experience, and also deep experience in coordinating during the worst of the Covid pandemic. But I am not sure what we can do to support this?
Urgenci International Network
On 07/04/2022 14:04, Pierre VUARIN wrote:
Hello Ryan Freeman
I find this type of action very relevant for the present, the immediate future and the future. I have spread your message in part of the network of the International Sustainable Earth University. This also refers a bit to what has been developed in the occupied territories in Palestine. Support at the FAO level would be a good thing. Different human and technical contributions could help.
Pierre Vuarin (UITC)
On 07/04/2022 14:04, Sigrid Wertheim-Heck wrote:
Though working on urban food system transformations and short food supply chains, I am not experienced on these topics under the dire Ukrainian circumstances.
However, an important aspect to consider in resilience under besieged conditions is the availability of seeds for local subsistence production. This has been crucial in e.g. Aleppo and Mercy Corps’ had a seed programme running in Syria. I just checked and saw that they have now a team on the ground in Ukraine: https://www.mercycorps.org/blog/syrian-farmers <https://www.mercycorps.org/blog/syrian-farmers>
Another strategy to consider is to establish citizen ‘coops’ in organising local food supply and distribution.
I am happy to contribute where I can, I speak Russian (though a bit rusty) and have lived in Ukraine, but at the moment have no clear cut idea on how to concretely assist.
Associate professor Global Food System Sustainability, Wageningen University
On 08/04/2022 04:04, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I don’t have experience in emergency and crisis response but I’m studying local foodsheds, local food production capacity, and food supply chain maps. Here are some thoughts:
In addition to what was mentioned in previous e-mails, I would suggest taking stock of and mapping the resources available and their capacity at this point – including producers, distribution sides, storage, spots that could be turned into gardens, etc. I’m convinced that, having an overview of what’s available and where it is located, can help in figuring out how to best allocate and distribute food and equipment for food production and processing.
I think it would also be helpful to take this “map” and check whether the infrastructure (buildings, fields, streets) are vulnerable to further attacks or cutoffs. It doesn’t help if you grow or store food but it’s not accessible due to disruptions.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can help in any ways (remotely).
Kerstin Schreiber, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, McGill University
On 08/04/2022 04:04, Andrew Adam-Bradford wrote:
Dear Jessica and Judith
There is a very clear and urgent role for urban agriculture in Ukraine. One extreme example will be growing food under siege conditions.
Later this year out of necessity urban agriculture will appear across many cities in Ukraine. I am particularly referring to the small-scale production of vegetables under extremely challenging conditions. Particularly for survivors growing food under siege. Growing in home gardens, safe urban green space, out of any type of container and even in rubble to sustain the most basic food security conditions.
Remote technical support can enhance this process. If seed distribution is possible with the delivery of other humanitarian relief, then again this enhances any urban agriculture.
Simple practical actions include:
1. Provision of seed packages with fast-growing and high-nutritional dense crops;
2. Promotion of growing mediums using soil, rubble and compost mixes;
3. Promotion of greywater, surface water and human-urine blends for crop irrigation under emergency conditions.
Such practices maximise soil and water conservation. Integrating compost production with soil and rubble mixtures improves both the physical the nutritional quality of what may be a limited growing material. The blending of nutrient-rich human urine with other water sources, such as greywater and surface waters, maximises the potential irrigation capacity thus allowing for the emergency cultivation of crops. Innovations can even include emergency hydroponics. Such ‘resource recovery and reuse’ practices offer a crude form of the circular economy. I am currently preparing a simple and short guide that puts many of the above practices into simple instructions for distribution in Ukraine.
Your contact working with the municipality can play a crucial role in this process by requesting assistance from the Food Security Cluster coordinator who is already operational in Ukraine. The earlier the contact then the more time is available for preparations, leading to greater urban agriculture impacts during the growing seasons.
I am available and very happy to support any initiatives from the municipalities and any other networks in Ukraine.
You may have seen calls for abstracts on the Food-for-Cities Group for a book on urban agriculture and forced displacement. This includes urban agriculture under siege conditions so there is available expertise that can be mobilised to support such initiatives.
Andrew Adam-Bradford, Urban Agriculture Specialist
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Image: A Food for Cities discussion started on developing short food supply chains for Ukraine. (politpost-www 2022)