Friday, 12 February 2016

Black Sea agri-business news and comment

From February 15, Russia is introducing temporary restrictions on corn and soybeans from the United States after finding contamination including dry rot in corn and weed seeds in soybeans.

Russia’s food and safety watchdog said they found 64 cases of bacterial contamination in US soybeans including a bacteria which does not exist in Russia.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any meaningful plant pathology but isn’t it conceivable that if you look at any grain consignment from another region you will find bacteria which is not present in your country?

Isn’t that what makes cheese regional?

The Minister of Agriculture says that Russia plans to replace American soybeans with soybeans from Latin American countries.

A cargo train recently completed China-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway covering 7,908km over nine days.  The route requires two weeks to cover, which is estimated to be around twice as fast as the sea route.

Kazakhstan hopes to use the new railway to up grain exports to Iran and presumably back the other way to China once China starts buying wheat again.

In Ukraine the Minister of Agriculture reported that 2015 investments in agriculture totalled $1 billion and is planned to reach $2 billion in 2016.

Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for European integration said this week that agricultural and high technologies (IT) have the greatest prospects for development saying that many farms in Ukraine are already using technology to optimise costs by reducing fertiliser and fuel.

An oversimplification perhaps but you get the general idea and to be fair the large scale nature of Ukraine agriculture does lend itself to remote sensing, variable application, yield mapping and the like.

Plus I have to say Ukraine Wi-Fi and internet access is brilliant, superfast, free and you don’t need to write your life story to access a cloud that doesn’t work.

Meanwhile here at Crop Tour Towers we are gearing up for our 2016 Crop Tours and it’s already looking to be an interesting season.

South and east Ukraine had a difficult start with autumn dryness delaying germination and a pretty rough winter since with snow melting and leaving crops exposed.  Large parts of Russia are also snow free and unseasonably warm weather is currently softening crops making them vulnerable to any drop in temperature.  Plus where we do have snow we are finding ice encased crops which will start to suffer within the next week.

This year we are planning to run up to ten separate crop tours at key times across Russia and Ukraine kicking off with a post-winter assessment in late March shortly followed up with an assessment of the spring crops post planting.

We will be offering an annual subscription service which gets you access to all the reports through the entire season plus intermittent updates of interest as and when they occur and we will also continue to offer access to individual reports.

As always your support will be greatly appreciated, watch this space for details.

Finally, this weeks “pregnant panda” story goes to Ukraine; while researching the internet using the terms “Ukraine” and “milk” I stumbled across this.

A fed-up woman who had endured a 14-hour business meeting said 'I can't take no more, I want to go home, declare a break!' before spraying her colleagues with breast milk when they ignored her request.

Have a good weekend.