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Canada ships seeds to Ukraine to help hard-pressed farmers targeted by Russia

Canada is sending seeds to Ukraine, including fast-growing buckwheat, to help out with a food crisis sparked by the Russian invasion, says Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Ukraine, like Canada, is one of the world's biggest exporters of wheat and supplies many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as the UN World Food Program.

Ukraine's government has asked Canada to send seeds as well as testing equipment to certify grain being transported by rail through Europe. Russia has blockaded Ukraine's ports, including Odesa, and Ukraine's silos are bursting with grain from its last harvest, which it cannot export.

Buckwheat, used to make soba noodles, has a shorter growing season than wheat, making it easier to cultivate for Ukraine's hard-pressed farmers.

Bibeau said Canada is also shipping mobile silos to Ukraine to store grain.

“This is a kind of storage that can be installed very quickly,” Bibeau said in an interview on Friday.

Bibeau said Canadian farmers "want to step up" to help alleviate the world food shortage stemming from the invasion.

She said the government and Canada’s grain producers are “all hands on deck” to get as much grain to developing countries facing hunger as they can.

Canada’s grain growers are well aware of the global food shortages following the Russian invasion, she said, and are “really trying their best to produce more.”

“If we compare it to last year, which was a very bad year because of the drought, we hope to have about 44 per cent more production this year,” Bibeau said.

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