Wednesday, 31 January 2018

This week's Black Sea agribusiness news in brief

Russia’s Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev, said earlier this week that grain exports will about 45-47MMT in this year.
The minister went on to say to say that Russia is developing a system to support the export of agricultural products and to make it competitive at the level of advanced foreign countries.

The production of Russian agricultural products for 2014-16 has grown by more than 11% and the export of agricultural products amounted to USD 20.1 billion.

I have since seen reports, yet unverified, that the ministry is now forecasting 50MMT of exports and I also read somewhere else that Russian agricultural exports now exceed arms in terms of value.

As of 24 January, Russian grain exports stood at 29.8 million tons, up 35% on the same period last season, (wheat 23.5MMT; barley 3.6MMT; corn 2.6MMT).

On the weather front, snow continued to fall across Russia and Ukraine last week offering further protection to winter crops, as confirmed by satellite data which showed both the geographical spread and depth of snow increased.

As soon as I tweeted this “fact” I received pictures of winter wheat and canola in southern Ukraine devoid of snow and not only that, looking ready for the first application of fertiliser, underlining the importance of first hand reporting.

Then as if to underline that underline, I noticed that since the beginning of December USDA have been reporting western FSU crops as dormant; the attached picture of a no-dormant central Russian wheat plant was taken at the beginning of January. 

Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture report this week that 95% of winter grain crops are in good and satisfactory condition and give an optimistic forecast for the harvest of winter crops from the European part of the country.

Clearly, they don’t know as these figures have remained unchanged since November, but I think its fair to say Russian crops are currently in an OK condition.

We will tour Russia in March to independently verify post-winter crop condition, subscription details to follow soon.

Russia preferential railway tariff, which is part of that developing system the minister referred to, has kicked in with 295,000MT of grain to be transported from Voronezh, Kurgan, Kursk, Lipetsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Orenburg, Oryol, Penza, Samara, Saratov, Tambov and Ulyanovsk.

Ukraine exported 157,800MT of organic grains between Jan-Nov 2017, up 11% on the same period the year before, including 59KMT of wheat, 83KMT of corn and 11KMT of barley, with 95% going to the EU.

Beijing-based China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) completed the first dredging project at Ukraine's Black Sea port of Yuzhny ahead of time when they deepened the an approach channel to 16m allowing the port to serve Panamax ships.

A second dredging project is on the cards at the Yuzhny, when CHEC will increase the depth of another approach channel to create a 16m deep operational area near three berths by the end of 2019.

And finally, Russian agronomists gathered today at the All-Russian Agronomical Meeting to discuss last year’s results, the tasks ahead for implementing measures envisaged by the State, and preparation for seasonal field agricultural work in 2018.

Only one day?