Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ukraine’s corn agricultural policy

Ukraine's previous president, Yanukovych was inaugurated in February 2010 and what passed as an agricultural policy was put in to place.

A big part of that policy was corn.

Corn was considered the strategic crop to grow.

It works well in Ukraine’s climate and soils and increasing global demand meant it could be exported in large quantities to generate foreign currency which was desperately needed by a state running out of cash (although as it turned out not all that cash was destined for state use).

To encourage growers to plant more corn legislation was put in to place to limit the crops farmers could grow in their rotation.

More stick than carrot policy.

Particular emphasis was placed on restricting the expansion of sunflowers which was becoming popular because it had done well in previous dry years, was easy to grow, profitable and you could follow it with winter wheat, something you couldn't do with corn.

I was told directly and with no allusion to grow corn and do not grow more sunflowers otherwise there would be consequences.

Naturally I ignored this and stuck to the planned crop rotation as that is the right way to run a business and in reality legal consequences were limited and other consequences, well that kind of goes with the terrain.

Corn is a great crop to grow as long as it’s not a wet harvest when drying eats in to the margin or an early winter making it difficult to gather or fertiliser prices are not too high as it needs feeding to get yield or you don’t need to transport it too far as it’s a bulky crop or it’s not a drought year as its shallow rooting or you don’t want to follow it with an autumn planted crop or, well you get the picture.

The question now is what is the future for corn in Ukraine?

Will the new government continue to squeeze farmers for cash and follow the previous policy of corn at all costs; or will they implement a more enlightened approach and encourage a business environment that allows individuals to make the right decisions for them based on market forces and technical developments?

More carrot and less stick please.