WESTERN PRODUCER — The Canadian government has pledged $52 million to Ukraine for grain storage and laboratory equipment.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced the funding June 26 during a G7 meeting in Germany.
Agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said she had called the Ukrainian agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi to let him know the help was on its way.
“He was very happy to hear the news,” she said.
Solskyi earlier this month addressed the standing committee on agriculture and said his country desperately needed temporary grain storage.
Since then, grain storage and food facilities have been targeted by the Russians, including a Viterra vegetable oil terminal hit by missiles last week.
Bibeau said a call for proposals has gone out for the purchase and installation of food or agricultural product storage, including mobile silos. That will account for $50 million.
The remaining $2 million will be spent on lab equipment to test for animal diseases and other export requirements.
Bibeau said that was also a request from Solskyi when she and other agriculture ministers met earlier in the conflict.
“One of the first asks he had for us was to help them put in place food certification sites on the border,” she said.
Ukraine needs alternate routes to move food in and out of the country but didn’t have the equipment to set up at these sites. Bibeau said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and regulatory body in Ukraine are discussing exactly what the needs are.
Bibeau said she didn’t know how long it would take to get the storage and lab equipment in place.
The money is flowing through the government’s procurement department, not the agriculture budget, she said.
Trudeau announced the funding in a tweet, saying Canada has valuable expertise in grain storage and agricultural practices.
“Our farmers’ knowledge and experience will help immensely,” he said. “We’ll continue to work with partners to provide support for Ukraine, and to address the global food security crisis.”
A backgrounder from the federal government said global food insecurity is being severely exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and agricultural capacity has been attacked.
“Ukraine’s farmers are eager to get back to their fields, to both feed Ukrainians, and to export their crops to other nations in need,” it said.
The call for proposals is open to Canadian and international companies.
“This procurement will be accompanied by technical assistance to address integration into Ukrainian agri-food systems and with support to maintain and effectively use the storage capabilities provided.”