Wednesday, 22 February 2017

This week's Black Sea agribusiness news in brief

Russia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture said they have approved 15 regional banks of the 27 applications submitted for participation in the new mechanism for concessional lending to farmers.

The Minister reported they had carried out all the necessary work to bring state support to agricultural producers and that the regions should sign agreements with the Ministry as soon as possible.

He went on to make sure he was covered by saying that if agreements are not signed in the coming days the regions will not be able to receive funds intended for farmers, although he failed to mention that this possibly could have been wrapped up before Christmas rather than days before farmers start spring planting.

As of January 1, 2017 Russian grain stocks were reported at 38.9mmt which is the fourth month in a row of the highest grain stocks (y-o-y) in the last 7 years.

High stocks are because of the record grain crop (Russian state statistics preliminary data is 118mmt) and a slower pace of exports than last year.

Russia has approved subsidies that will partially compensate the construction of pig farms, modernisation of agricultural facilities, irrigation and soil improvement of agricultural land and sturgeon farming.

The Russian government clearly recognise the importance of agriculture to the economy but what’s not clear is if this level of support is above what has been available in the past.

Saudi Arabian investors Al Ramez International Group will finance a poultry farm project worth €85 million in Kazakhstan.

Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2017 and will have an estimated production capacity of 30,000mt of poultry meat a year.

In 2017 the Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture plans to create 220 milk receiving points (dairies?), 54 slaughter houses, and family-run feedlots for 244,000 cattle head a year.

Kazakhstan’s National Managing Holding KazAgro JSC plans to provide $186 million to finance this spring’s sowing operations.

KazAgro’s finance company, KazAgroFinance, say that $80 million will come from public funds with $106 million from other sources, so, if you fancy investing in Kazakhstan’s agricultural infrastructure, now could be your chance.

Reports are emerging that variable temperatures have led to the formation of an ice crust on Ukrainian fields which killed up to 30% of the barley crop but oddly not wheat or oilseed rape.

Ukrainian farmers have been talking about an ice crust since late December but no one I talk to is unduly concerned and winter crops are still under snow, so any reports on winter kill or estimated yields (the first USDA estimates are out later this week) is purely speculation.

The only sure fire way to assess crop condition is to go and have a look yourself once the snow thaws, or, if you don’t fancy that, you can subscribe to our Black Sea Crop Tour service and we'll do it for you.

And finally, Novosibirsk is ready for the VIII All-Russian Winter Rural Games.

The Director of the VIII All-Russian Winter Rural Games reported that all preparations are now ready for the games which will open in the city of Berdsk, Novosibirsk region on 2 March.

The program includes cross-country skiing, polyathlon, kettlebell lifting, chess, checkers, mechanics, milking and for the first time in the history of the Winter Games, mini-football.