Ukraine has officially reported yet another record grain harvest for 2016, exceeding 66 million tons in the process. Of this, wheat accounted for 26.8 million tons, maize came in at 28 million tons and the barley harvest amounted to 9.9 million tons. Aside, 4.3 million tons of soybean were also harvested.
Agriculture-related products are now the largest exports from Ukraine, accounting for EUR 14.6 billion, or 42.5% of total Ukrainian exports in 2016 (by value).
The impact of Ukraine’s agricultural export-led growth can already be seen in Ireland.
Ukraine has been the leading overseas supplier of maize into Ireland over the past three years, exporting 284,908 tons to Ireland last year.
This figure was 298,016 tons in 2015 and 235,509 tons in 2014. In contrast, just 26,000 tons of Ireland’s maize imports originated from Ukraine in 2011.
The opportunity for further bilateral trade opportunities with Ukraine needs to be further explored.
For example, as a key global fertilizer exporter, Ireland could easily turn to Ukraine for supply of this key input.
At the same time, Ukraine has a deficit in quality bovine stock and genetics. It also imports a lot of its farm machinery needs.
These are areas that Ireland could capitalize on – from an export point of view.
Ukraine has the capability to double its agricultural output; there’s enough capacity to feed 500 million people. It has the capability to easily capitalize on post-Brexit agri-food trade opportunities.
Similarly, those with notions of resurrecting Ireland’s sugar beet industry should cast a wary eye on the Eastern European country.
The 2016 sugar beet harvest in the Ukraine amounted to 13.7 million tons, with an average yield less than 50 tons/ha. Ukraine also exported 465,900 tons of sugar in 2016 – a new record.
Ukraine planted 2.75 times more land area under sugar beet in 2006. Also, Ukrainian sugar beet yields are just two-thirds of EU average yields.
It could easily up the ante in the market, with further growth.
Ukraine has 41 million hectares of farmland; that’s ten times Ireland’s 4.1 million hectares. Over half of this land is farmed by 48,000 commercial farmers.
Out of these 48,000 commercial farmers the top-100 farming companies, known as ‘Agri-Holdings’, collectively farm 6.4 million hectares. These holdings range in size from 14,000 ha to the largest farming corporation in the country with 654,000 ha. Below this there are 5,400 farms managing, on average, farms sizes of 1,950 ha. Rounding off the commercial farming sector are 42,700 farmers farming, on average, 108 ha each.
Long known as the ‘bread-basket of Europe’, Ukraine boasts 33% of the world’s fertile chernozem soils (a fertile black soil – rich in humus).
The country claims the following distinctions in the global agricultural league table: top producer of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil; second highest exporter of grains; third highest producer of barley; fourth highest exporter of barley; fifth highest producer of corn; sixth highest exporter of wheat; seventh highest exporter of flour; eighth highest producer of soy bean and ninth highest producer of wheat.
Looking forward to 2017, Bohdan Chomiak, of consulting agency Ukragroconsult, is confident of another good year for Ukraine’s agriculture sector.
“We expect continued growth in output, as deregulation and reforms have made it simpler for Ukrainian producers to access international best technologies. As producers learn to effectively use these technologies this will lead to further growth”. (UkrAgroConsult/Business World Magazine)