When Jonathan Clibborn finished agriculture college in 2007 he had a choice of places to go. He wanted to travel and to put his farming skills to use. It was a toss-up between Ukraine, Canada and Sierre Leone.

Spotting the huge opportunities he settled on Ukraine, which is what he describes as in the 'Goldilocks zone'.

"When the Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine got its independence in 1991, there was a lot of vacant and fallow land here and I just thought there was a really excellent opportunity to come here and start a farm," he says.

"It has always been deemed the breadbasket of Europe, the soils here are excellent. It’s in that Goldilocks zone where the soil, weather and rainfall all combine to make it a perfect growing area. We are able to grow relatively high yielding crops".

In 2014, he started his own business, 'Norbil Agri', and he now runs an ever-growing 10,000-acre farm. Farms in Ukraine are enormous, much bigger than anything in Ireland.

As we drive along Ukraine’s pitted and cratered roads, Jonathan points out his yellow corn fields, stretching on either side as far as the eye can see. His farm is 50km from end to end, and on a busy day, he can travel up to 500km.

Since coming to Ukraine in 2007, he has noticed enormous changes.

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According to him, Ukraine has begun to realise its potential as an agriculture powerhouse, and this war has come at a time when the country is making huge strides in terms of progress.

"There has been a lot of investment here in the last 15 years," he says. "Now we have Western equipment, we have the latest hybrids and the latest technology in chemicals in terms of fertilisers. It’s now a real cutting-edge country. It’s just a shame that war has come along and stalled that."

"It's the perfect storm at the moment with Ukraine locked up, sanctions on Russia, there’s no fertiliser turning up to South America and the US is as dry as a bone"

Powerhouse is a good way to describe Ukraine in terms of agricultural production. It is one of the biggest producers of grain in the world, a key-player in terms of global food supply.

It and Russia combined produce about 30% of the world’s traded wheat. Ukraine exports around 75% of the grain it produces and keeps the rest for the domestic market, but with war having effectively locked the country down, those reliant on its exports are facing a huge crisis.

Countries like Eritrea, Armenia, Mongolia and Azerbaijan are almost 100% dependent on Ukraine’s grain exports. Many other countries, like Egypt, which is the world’s largest wheat importer, lean heavily if not exclusively on Ukraine.

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The impact of this war will be felt right around the world. And even if miraculously, the war ended tomorrow, Clibborn observes that already a lot of damage has been done.

"It’s the perfect storm at the moment with Ukraine locked up, sanctions on Russia, there’s no fertiliser turning up to South America and the US is as dry as a bone. So I can’t see world supplies getting replenished any time soon. The reality is that we export wheat to places that can’t grow it."

Ukraine, along with the sanctioned Russia and Belarus, is also a big producer of fertiliser - essential in ensuring good crop yield and quality. And unfertilised crops means they’re lower in protein, which means animals feeding on that grain will be thinner. Less beef means meat prices go up, and typically it’s the people most in need who suffer.

The impact of all this on the world’s poorest is not lost on food producers in Ukraine, who carry this in addition to the stresses of war.

"Ukraine is an exporting country. I don’t think we will ever starve, there’s just too much produce here, but it’s the north Africa and southeast Asia – those zones are reliant on Ukraine’s exports," says Clibborn, who feels lucky that he ordered, and has already taken delivery of, this year’s fertiliser.

But what about next year if this war, as many predict, now grinds on?

"We will change our crop rotation. One of our main crops is corn and that’s the most intensive crop for nitrogen. So we are leaning towards lower input crops like soya beans, like buckwheat and going that way instead."

Farming in a war zone means constant firefighting. You put one out and start to tackle another one. For Clibborn, recent weeks have brought one challenge after another, but access to finance is his overriding concern.

"For our company, the biggest concern has been cash flow like any company in the world. Staff? There was risk of staff being drafted so we have no one to drive the tractors and repair equipment. Then we felt it with parts not being available, then chemicals and seeds were stuck in certain warehouses in inaccessible areas.

"Now things have gotten a little bit easier, there’s more diesel on the market which we’re happier with, we have reserves on site but the main issue for us is the banks not financing".

Jonathan brings us to his local grain elevator, which is where grain is dried and cleaned to get it ready for sale. One of the men who runs it, Ivan, agrees that the war is having a terrible effect on the farming industry here.

"Very negatively because the majority went for export and it was exported through ports which are now blocked. The grain is stuck on farms as there is no way to transport and fulfil the commitments with the buyers. The capacity to go through the train stations is limited because there are few checkpoints that you can use.

"Even the very small capacity that we have to transport, will be damaged"

"So it’s very difficult because you cannot sell the stock you have and you cannot empty the containers for the next year, and also you will not be able to seed for next year. So the harvest for this year and the sowing campaign for next year is affected."

With ports closed, the only means of export is via the train lines. But the width of railway tracks in Ukraine is wider than those in Poland and beyond – meaning the grain can only go as far as the border before it has to be unloaded, and then reloaded onto containers compatible with European tracks.

And even the limited amounts of exports that can go via rail are now being targeted by Russian airstrikes.

On Monday a nearby railway sub-station, which was used by farmers including Clibborn to transport their produce, was struck and destroyed.

Ivan says he is very worried about the threat of Russian airstrikes.

"They attacked the railway hub and it’s a super large concern. Even the very small capacity that we have to transport, will be damaged. There will be no way to export and very it’s problematic to deliver as they (Russia) want to destroy all the logistics in the country."