Friday, 20 June 2014

Ukraine in conflict but still full of agricultural opportunities

Ukraine has been top of the news for months with stories of revolutions, invasions and war so it might not rank high on your list of place to visit let alone to work or invest in, but perhaps it should.

The country is essentially one big arable block with good soils, large rolling fields and a continental climate with access to markets in Europe, Russia (currently restricted), through the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, North Africa and beyond.

Slightly smaller than France or Texas, Ukraine is nearly all flat and accounts for about 12% of the European arable land area.

The winters are cold and dry with plenty of snow to protect overwintering crops; summers are long and hot leading to an intensive growing season.

Ukraine grows the main crops of wheat, barley, oilseed rape, sunflowers, soya and maize plus less traded rye, oats, linseed, flax, potatoes, sugar beet, buckwheat, millet and even rice along with a typical range of fruits and vegetables.

Milk and dairy products are produced although cattle numbers have fallen from eight million in the mid-nineties to less than three million today and nearly 80% of the national herd consists of individual house cows which are not being replaced.

Pig and poultry is developing with some big producers cornering markets for meat and eggs and while mutton is available, lamb is not on the menu so virtually none is produced.

The current government is getting cosy with the EU and all sorts of positive noises are coming out of Kyiv and Brussels that bode well for the farming future in Ukraine.

Is this the right time to make a move?