In Ukraine, sowing is running its course

The war did not paralyze Ukrainian agriculture. Autumn sowing is well underway and should be completed shortly.

“Despite the war, the land is sown and the harvest is harvested. It is with this reassuring observation that Gerard De La Salleleader of the Ukrainian company Alfagro, portrayed Ukrainian agriculture on September 14, 2022 during a conference organized by the Syrpa to Space.

In the south of the country, or about 20% of the Ukrainian territory where Russian troops are present, the situation is more complex. “Farmers don’t work in this region because it would be impossible for them to export their crops,” he continues. The stocks they had at the beginning of the war were loaded onto trucks by the Russian army and exported to Russia via Crimea. “

Treasures in struggle

Florian GarnierCEO of a 10,000 hectare farm in the Zhytomiyr region 200 km from kyiv confirms the observation: “we sow wheat after sowing the rapeseed. Sowing must be completed on 1uh October. Florian, however, faced liquidity problems.

To carry out the sowing he was forced to sell Grain at 120 euros per ton, or 30 euros below these production costs. Overall, Ukrainian farms face serious cash flow problems and it is difficult to turn to banks as bank lending rates are at 25%.

A daily adjustment

The self-described farmer explains that overall his crops have not been too affected by the war. “The coincidence of the calendar meant that war was declared on February 24 when it was still -10 ° C, says Florian Garnier. But our tractors got overhauled, we still had diesel, so we brought our fertilizers ahead of schedule. Since the beginning of the conflict we have lived day by day. Spring sowing was also carried out earlier than in other years.

Favorite fall crops

If Florian does not address the issue, from a personal point of view he is more affected by the conflict: «when the war broke out, some of our employees mobilized. We saw them leave without a helmet and without a bulletproof vest. We were afraid for them. “

Since the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, it is also impossible to work at night when it is a habit on this farm. Work in the fields takes place day and night thanks to a rotation of the teams over three shifts.

Florian Garnier also points out that this year he has reduced the share of winter crops on his farm. This has gone from 30 to 20%. He felt he had more visibility at eight months, hence the decision to favor autumn crops in his rotation.

Difficult preservation

The big obstacle for Ukrainian farmers remains the storage of crops. At the start of the war in February 2022, 245 million tons were stored in Ukraine. Between February and the end of August 2022, only 10 million were exported. The new harvest is added to the postponement of the previous one.

Gérard De La Salle explains that the most affected farms are the largest, from 25,000 to 570,000 hectares, and the smallest, less than 1,000 hectares. For the former, the volumes to be exported are so large that it is difficult to find sea routes. For the little ones the limit is the logistics cost: they do not generate enough income to pay these costs.

Exports not yet at the pre-war level

It is therefore medium-sized farms (between 10,000 and 25,000 hectares), such as those of Florian Garnier, to do better, but the farmer had to adapt his storage by deploying all the silobags at his disposal.

Since the signing of the tripartite agreement between Ukraine, Turkey and Russia at the end of July 2022, Ukrainian exports have gained momentum. Since then, around 100 boats have left Ukraine. Gérard de La Salle, however, moderates this good news: “2.4 million tons were exported in August, that is less than half of the exports made in a month before the war”.

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