Friday, 25 July 2014

Ukraine conflict harvest part 2

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is undoubtedly affecting farming but by how much?

Ukraine's Ag Minister estimated 500,000mt or more might be lost in the warring region; I estimated upwards of 1.1mmt could be at risk, so between us we are probably in the ball park.

We do differ on if that grain is “lost” or “at risk”.

There are a couple of things to take in to account before we completely write off that grain; be it half a million or one million tonnes.

It is difficult to make a clear assessment of how the war is going but it is clearly not going to Poroshenko’s plan who back in May proclaimed it was going to be over in a matter of hours not days and certainly not months.

However through the white noise of internet chatter it appears, at least it does to me, that the Ukraine Army might be gaining ground and the truly despicable and indefensible murder of 298 innocent people including 80 children aboard flight MH17 has moved the conflict on to another level possibly beyond the reach of the separatists.

All of this leads me to believe the ground war might be moving in to the final stages and if not finished off outright it might be contained - I certainly hope it’s not going to go the other way.

Consequently any un-harvested crop still standing in the conflict region may become accessible to farmers and we may see the bulk of it eventually gathered.

Cereal crops like wheat and barley will stand a long time after they are ripe and it is possible although not desirable to cut them through August and even into September with little loss of yield and quality, I know because I've done it.

Corn, sunflower and long season soya harvest doesn't really get started until September so they hopefully will be ready after the resolution of the conflict.

So the known unknown is how much of that at risk crop will be lost crop?

My feeling is very little; it’s too valuable to leave in the fields and if you know anything about Ukraine’s history of famine during the 1930’s which was engineered from Moscow you will understand that Ukrainians simply can not leave food in the field to rot.