Ukraine will consider allowing more milling wheat to be shipped out of the country if the growing season continues to be good, according to Agriculture Minister Oleksiy Pavlenko.
The country, which said in January that it wanted to cap exports at 1.2 million metric tons in the first half of the year, will revisit the decision in about a month, Pavlenko said in an interview in Washington. More grain sales will support an economic recovery in the nation, the world’s seventh-largest shipper of wheat, he said.
Ukraine has sought to limit exports on milling wheat, which is used to make flour, in an effort to preserve food supplies as fighting between government forces and Russian separatist rebels led to a plunge in the hryvnia and pushed the economy into a deeper recession. Farmers have less access to credit this season and are probably buying less fertilizer, which could lower yields and limit Ukraine’s ability to boost exports, Pavlenko said.
“We don’t see any problems with the winter crops,” he said. Still, “it depends. If you have less fertilizers put in, by the end of summer we will have low quality of wheat.”
The crop quality is currently similar to last year, according to Pavlenko. Winter crops are getting sufficient moisture and the warm weather has helped the crops develop about two weeks ahead of average, UkrAgroConsult said in e-mailed report on March 16. The research firm this week trimmed its estimate for Ukraine’s wheat harvest by 1.9 percent to 20.6 million tons.
Areas along northern and eastern borders of Ukraine, as well as southern Russia, “appear to have been considerably affected by frost kill,” according to a March 23 report from the European Union’s crop-monitoring unit MARS.
Ukraine is planning to expand its production in dairy and meat within the next few years, Pavlenko said. Much of the nation’s agriculture potential is undeveloped, he said, adding that horse-drawn plows continue to harvest crops in some villages.
Pavlenko is visiting the U.S. and Canada this week to increase trade between Ukraine and the two nations. He also has scheduled meetings with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican, as well as officials from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the World Bank and Deere & Co.
“We have obsolete machinery, outdated machinery,” he said. “Our black soil is the best in the world, and a perfect climate, with plenty of rainfall. We have huge potential.”