Thursday, 14 May 2015

More buckwheat please

A week ago Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Yaroslav Krasnopolskiy, declared spring planting would be all over in the next 7-10 days.

A week later and the Ministry of Agriculture, Oleksiy Pavlenko, said he expected a successfully completion of the planting campaign in two weeks.

What the Deputy Minister failed to take in to account is that whatever amount of time someone in Ukraine tells you anything will take, you need to double it, add a bit then wait five more minutes.

The first Minister also reported 83% plantings are complete but registered some unwillingness amongst farmers to plant extra buckwheat.

You may recall that ten days ago he instructed his Heads of Administrations to instruct farmers to plant an additional 50,000ha of the crop to avoid shortages and panic buying later in the year – I presume by acknowledging the unwillingness of cash strapped farmers to man the planters this hasn't happened.

Which in my mind at least is indicative of a broader attempt to manage information on food availability and security but does beg the question why address the buckwheat issue so publicly?

In the grand scheme of things an extra 50,000ha of buckwheat isn't really all that and trying to resolve it at Ministerial level when the country is bankrupt seems a bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Anyway, to stimulate farmers to plant more buckwheat the PJSC Agrarian Fund has now begun to purchase forward contracts, which is probably what should have been done ten days ago rather than issuing declarations.