Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Latest Black Sea agri-business news

Russia’s first deputy minister of agriculture reports there are no plan to restrict grain trade with Turkey in light of events surrounding the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey.  

Perhaps not, but the smart money is on things getting worse before they get better so traders will be looking for alternative supplies rather than risk getting caught up in an escalation of sanctions and embargo's.  

Unsurprisingly Ukraine has stepped up to the plate and told Turkey they would be more than happy to supply grain and other products should they so wish.

Yesterday Russia's minister of agriculture signed an agreement along with VTB and the French company SEMMARIS to create Russia’s largest wholesale food market "Agropark Maksimikha".  

SEMMARIS manage Rungis International Market, the world’s largest high-tech food and logistics centre, located in Paris.  

The 300 hectare distribution centre to be constructed in the Moscow Region is estimated to cost about RUB 40 billion and is scheduled for completion in 2018.  

The Russian ministry of agriculture will provide subsidies and compensate 20% of direct construction expenses, because, they say, these projects help achieve a number of priority goals in the agriculture industry.

Earlier this week Russia’s minister of agriculture gave a speech at the equivalent of PMQ’s but without the questions, where he outlined recent points of interest.  

Points of interest include this year’s harvest at about 102mmt in net weight; export potential is 30mmt; this year Russia managed to produce more wheat, sugar beet, vegetables and buckwheat; it was a record harvest for maize, soybean and oilseed flax and meat production increased by 5%.  

Bad news for the world’s dairy farmers was issued when he said it is necessary to increase the number of cows by 1 million to increase production by a further 6 million tonnes within the next five years.  

That might help Russia’s food security but it’s going to do nothing for prices in an already over supplied market.

Ukraine has received an official response from the European Union on ten dairy enterprises officially accepted as having been audited thereby opening the door to European market.  

EU policy towards Ukraine has publicly and consistently been to open up markets as part of the wider integration and development so it shouldn’t come as a surprise but it will undoubtedly be seen as further negative news by EU’s beleaguered dairy farmers. 

It’s not likely to get any better either, Ukraine’s minister of agriculture points out that "European certificates enable an increase in exports of dairy products not only to Europe but also to other markets including Asia and Africa”.

Another small story to slip out of Ukraine this week was President Poroshenko extending the moratorium on farmland sales until Jan 1, 2017.  

The moratorium first came into force over a decade ago and despite commentators (and speculators) saying (and hoping) it would be lifted anytime soon, it hasn’t.  And neither is it likely to be.  

Ukraine land ownership is such a political hot potato it will take a very strong government to bring in the necessary legislation to make the sale, ownership and trade of land a possibility.

Even the most optimistic of us can’t see a sufficiently strong Ukraine government, in relation to land sales, for some considerable time to come.

Weather in central Russia has been unseasonably mild with daytime temperatures approaching double figures which is not necessarily good for crop development.  

I mentioned this in a tweet earlier in the week and turns out Canada and North America is having similar weather; won’t be long before speculators pick up on the news and the market bounces upwards as a consequence.  Possibly.

Ukraine and Netherlands have agreed to launch five joint projects in sustainable agriculture and rural development.  

Details are sketchy but along with a delegation of USDA who were in Kyiv to assess the need for further assistance programs, support for Ukraine agriculture and food continues to remain buoyant.

Finally, Ukraine has just approved the reform strategy for development of agriculture through to 2020.  

The minister reported the strategy provides a roadmap for reforming Ukraine's agricultural sector and is aimed at strengthening competitiveness, improving the business climate, increasing exports and to stimulate investment in the agricultural sector.  

I will report on further details as and when it becomes available.