Article by: Hari Yellina
Grain growers in Australia are spearheading a movement to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainian farmers and rural communities. They can support the cause by donating grain from this year’s winter crop via a special Grower Delivery Card in the National Grower Register (NGR) system. Growers were also encouraged to exhibit Ukraine flags on their farm equipment during seeding and share photos of their flags and machines on social media using the hashtag #AUSSIEGRAIN4UKRAINE. In reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) has formed a farmer-led sub-committee to spearhead the fundraising campaign and provide targeted humanitarian aid.
The sub-committee, according to GPA CEO Colin Bettles, will direct and drive the fundraising endeavour in order to help increase awareness and provide the best possible support at the lowest possible cost. Mr Bettles stated, “We are urging Australian grain producers to fly the Ukrainian flag and provide ideas and suggestions on where and how to target the best potential support.” “The subcommittee will review these recommendations and evaluate which initiatives are most suited.” This strategy will concentrate investment on long-term, future rehabilitation initiatives for Ukrainian farmers and their communities, in order to make a genuine difference as they emerge from the conflict.
Many of the members of the subcommittee have ties to Ukrainian agriculture, including as Nuffield scholars. These contacts are also being used to provide insight into the Ukrainian war, as well as other knowledge, to help guide the subcommittee’s decision-making. Well-known farmers David Fullwood, Simon Wallwork, and Brad Jones have spearheaded the programme in Western Australia. Mr Wallwork said many of them had close friends in Ukraine who grow wheat in the same way they do, but who are going through something that can’t be properly understood here in Australia right now. He explained, “This is our way of doing something constructive to assist them out and show them that we care.”
“We also welcome other grains industry executives and members, particularly bulk grain handlers and marketers, to put their hands up to help in any way they can.” The goal is to give Ukrainians some hope and motivation for the future. When grain producers and other industry members tried to find ways to support their Ukrainian grain farming cousins during a time of severe need, the concept was born on social media. Because grain prices had risen as a result of the conflict, the grain sector wished to share some of the benefits with humanity. Andrew Whitelaw, a market analyst and member of the subcommittee, urged others to become involved and donate resources to help the cause of global humanity.
“When Australian growers plant seeds this year, they’ll know they’re contributing to more than just feeding the globe,” Mr Whitelaw said. “Every small step we take now can make a significant difference in the lives of Ukrainians in the long run.” Members of the subcommittee also issued a call to action to organisations in other parts of the world. Grain growers in Australia were the first to launch a grain donation drive for Ukraine, and they encouraged sister organisations from France to Canada to follow suit. Once determined by the sub-committee, a list of the programs will be made available on the campaign page, prior to harvest, so growers know where fundraising is being directed. Once complete, a project report will also be posted for full transparency.
The Grower Delivery Card in the NGR is numbered 1500 4442 and registered to GPA.