23:37 PM Saturday, November 17, 2018
New Markets, New Challenges for Ukraine Grain Exporters
With hot climates, Africans and Asians have low tolerance for weed seeds or fungi
image/svg+xml Kyiv Lutsk Rivne Zhytomyr Lviv Ternopil Khmelnytskyi Uzhgorod Chernivtsi Vinnytsia Chernigiv Sumy Kharkiv Poltava Cherkasy Kirovohrad Lugansk Dnipropetrovsk Donetsk Zaporizhzhia Mykolaiv Odesa Kherson Simferopol Sevastopol Ivano- Frankivsk

by Aisha Down and Natalya Datskevych

KYIV -- With rising grain production and one third of the world’s black soil, Ukraine is a rising world food power.

“Ukraine could feed half the world,” Vladislav Sedyk, president of the Phytosanitary Association of Ukraine, told Ukraine’s second annual Grain Exports conference.

But new markets bring new challenges, experts and government officials said in interviews at the conference on Thursday. Among them: pest control.

The problem? The new markets in Asia and Africa have different climates and different pest problems than Ukraine’s traditional trade partners. Regulations on grain contamination are patchy, and often difficult to meet.

“You can export grain with a limited amount of ambrosia to South Europe,” said Volodymyr Lapa, head of Ukraine’s State Service on Food Safety and Consumer Protection. Ambrosia is the genus name for an invasive weed commonly known as ‘ragweed.’ “But in exports to Asia, there must be none.”

China to send sanitary team to check Ukraine

Standards for grain contaminants vary across the world—some more exacting than others. China, for example, requires that all grain imports come from zones quarantined from certain organisms, such as Tilletia controversa Kuhn, a wheat fungus common in the U.S.

Only a few areas in Ukraine meet this standard, said Vadim Tchaikovsky, deputy head of the plant quarantine department in Ukraine’s State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection. To ensure wheat remains fungus-free, China will send a delegation to inspect Ukrainian fields in 2018.

Strict rules make sense. Many Ukrainian pests are invasive species in Asia. Tropical nations can face far greater challenges than temperate nations when it comes to disease control.

President Poroshenko's state visit to Jakarta last year was largely designed to promote Urkaine's agricultural exports to Indonesia, one of Ukraine's top new Asian markets. (UNIAN/Nikolay Lazarenko)

But consequences for sending contaminated goods can be severe. Fungal contamination in two major grain shipments to Indonesia caused a loss of over 50,000 tons of wheat and seriously threatened Ukraine’s position in that market, said Tchaikovsky. Indonesia had become the biggest importer of Ukrainian grain.

Ukraine’s government is attentive to struggles Ukrainian exporters face in an increasingly global market, said Lapa and Sedyk.

The Rada is considering a draft law to enable private laboratories to get state certification to test for crop diseases.

Such a law would streamline business, Lapa said, adding that private laboratories can often perform more detailed tests for a wider range of diseases than state laboratories.

“It will lead to a more efficient system,” he said.

Key: accredited private labs

But Alexander Bobylov was skeptical the law would change his business model. He represents Linhope Commodities, which exports Ukrainian grain to markets worldwide.

“We wouldn’t rely entirely on local labs,” he said. Referring to the Grain and Free Trade Association, he said: “For the export trade, the lab needs to be on the GAFTA list. Otherwise it won’t happen.”

But, for those looking to enter the market, Bobylov conceded that the law was a good “first step.”

“Let’s say you meet a producer, and you want to order his grains,” he said. “You can order a survey from a local lab. Then, if it meets your standards, start talking.”

Slider photo: Wheat harvesting in Kherson region last summer (UNIAN)

For comments and story ideas, please contact UBJ Reporter Aisha Down at

Ukraine to increase grain exports

KIEV (Xinhua) -- Ukraine plans to increase its grain exports this year despite the projected decrease in harvest, a senior Agriculture Ministry's official said Thursday.

This year, Ukraine has a potential to ship abroad 42 million tons of grain compared with 40.2 million tons in 2016, Olga Trofimtseva, Ukraine's deputy agriculture minister, said during a conference of Grain Exports in Kiev.

According to the Agriculture Ministry's forecast, the country's grain production is expected to decline by seven percent to 62 million tons this year.

However, the strong grain exports are to be supported by large carry-over stocks and decreased domestic consumption.

In 2016, China was Ukraine's largest corn market, accounting for about 16 percent of total maize exports, and the third-largest barley importer with an export share of 6.2 percent.

Overall, Ukraine exported $6.1 billion worth of grain last year.

Posted Nov. 4, 2017

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