ROME (AP) — Ukraine's small-scale farmers, who are playing a critical role in feeding the population during the war, will be eligible for funding through the U.N.'s International Fund for Agricultural Development following Ukraine's induction Wednesday into body, officials said.
Small farmers in Ukraine "play a fundamental role in feeding the country" during the war, producing up to 80% of dairy, fruits and vegetables consumed by the population, IFAD said in a statement.
Farmers in the western provinces, where many people have fled to escape fighting in the east, "will require support to meet the increased demand for food,'' the organization said.
The farms are also an important source of income for an estimated 13 million Ukrainians living in rural areas, as poverty and malnutrition are becoming more widespread, IFAD said. According to a recent report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, many people living in rural areas are on the brink of poverty, with 44% living below subsistence levels and 7% suffering malnutrition.
Membership in IFAD will give farmers access to both grants and loans, as well as supplementary funds, officials said. IFAD has provided more than $24 billion to fund projects in developing countries since 1978.
Ukraine's membership in IFAD — in discussion since 2016 — also recognizes Ukraine's role as a major global producer and exporter of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, as the ripple effects of the war shake the global supply chain.
"Despite the war, Ukraine is still committed to contributing to global food security, to defuse the food crisis and save millions of people from hunger," Yaroslav Melnyk, Ukraine's ambassador to Italy, said after membership was conferred.
"However, this requires international assistance and investment, in particular ... support to increase exports and to perform the sowing and harvesting campaigns," he said.