Seed World

How Equivalent is Ukraine? Seed Certification at the Borders of Europe

The Annual Meeting of Seed Association of Ukraine took place on December 22, 2017 (from left to right: Olga Trofimtseva - the Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine for European Integration; Romain Desthieux - General Director at Maisadour Semences Ukraine, Siuzana Hryhorenko - Executive Director of Seed Association of Ukraine; Viacheslav Gavryliachyk - Chairperson of the Board of Seed Association of Ukraine,Technical Services Lead Marketing Department - Syngenta Ukraine; Volodymyr Gopchak - Deputy General Director to General Issues - KWS UKRAINA).

In 2011, Ukraine requested for recognition of equivalence of its seed certification system. Seven years later, this issue is still not resolved and has become one of key issues for the EU seed business community attempting to increase seed trade with Ukraine.

European seed companies, which are active in research, production and marketing in the seed market of Ukraine, seek new opportunities, which would be given by the EU equivalence. Thus, those who are interested in strengthening their position in international market need support of the European authorities in the recognition of equivalence of Ukrainian seed certification system to EU requirements.

Siuzana Hryhorenko – Executive Director of Seed Association of Ukraine

In its roadmap of 14 April 2016, the European Commission stated that this request has been assessed on the basis of whether Ukraine offers the same assurances for the identity, health and quality of seed as the EU.

The Commission carried out a legislative analysis and the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) conducted an inspection in Ukraine to audit its seed certification system in place. Both the legislative analysis and the inspection resulted in positive outcomes.

At advisory meetings with the stakeholders, and at several meetings of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF)/ Section Seeds, the EU seed companies and the Member States have requested the Commission to act quickly on the matter.

Still, by today, the import of cereal seeds from Ukraine into the EU is not possible, as the respective equivalence decision has not been taken.

In order to arrive at equivalency, it will be necessary to include Ukraine to the List of the non-EU countries, who received the equivalence status for seed certification systems.

This List is approved in Annex 1 of EU Council Decision No 2003/17EC of 16.12.2002, followed by the EU Commission submitting this issue to the EU Parliament and the Council of EU for their review.


Arguments in favour of equivalence:

  1. The matter is only about partially “simplifying” the formalities of non-tariff barriers regarding seed produced in Ukraine, namely, the recognition of the seed certificates;
  2. The EU will still be entitled to use other forms of non-tariff barriers e.g. customs formalities;quantitative restrictions; safety requirements, etc.;
  3. There is support by the EU seed business community (ESA, the voice of the EU seed industry);
  4. Ukraine houses several major European integrated seed companies that export seeds to Europe and other countries such as Maisadour Semences Ukraine, Llc, KWS-Ukraine, Euralis Semences Ukraine and many more.
  5. Only seeds of the varieties registered in EU countries can be exported, which means that Ukrainian producers will have to file the plant variety for registration in an EU country before exporting.
  6. The Russian market has been lost.
  7. The choice is still up to the European consumers.
  8. For Ukraine, a key aspect is the prospect of the transfer of production facilities of the world’s producers and also an improvement of production quality indicators.
  9. Seed import “critically” exceeds its export:


The main buyers of Ukrainian seeds are Belarus (35%), and EU (31%), as well as Serbia (5%), Egypt (4%), Georgia (4%). According to the data of the analytical agency APK-Inform, that studies Ukrainian agrarian markets, the key crops of seed export from Ukraine are: cereals (wheat, barley, corn), soybean, rape and sunflower.

In 2017, Ukraine exported:

  • Wheat: 2451 tons at 790.898 USD (of them to EU – 83,0 tons, 22.576 USD)
  • Barley: 36,6 tons, 20.574,7 USD (to EU – no data)
  • Soybean: 84,0 tons, 88.079 USD (to EU – 0,0 tons, 36,1 USD)
  • Sunflower: 609 tons, 2.713.681 USD (to EU – 105 tons, 1.108.695 USD)
  • Corn: 7.725 tons, 14.600.961 USD (to EU – 235 tons, 1.367.465 USD)
  • Rapeseed: 0,0 tons, 760,7 USD (to EU – 0,0 tons, 760,7 USD)

Seed trade to the EU went mainly to the following EU member-states: Romania, Hungary, Germany, Austria and Poland.

At the moment, due to the recent high volatility of the national currency, Ukrainian statistics tend not to give numbers in US dollars (or other currencies), leaving only the data of total weight of export.

In 2017 the acreage of seed multiplication area for varieties in Ukraine amounted to 1.3 to 1.4 million hectares.


When the Ukrainian seed market needs foreign seeds, the import is mainly provided by the EU states (52%), followed by Turkey (19%), and USA (17%). However, Ukraine hardly imports cereal seeds (wheat, barley, rye, grain legume crops), as these are provided by the national breeders. The only exception is corn (34% of import), but this situation changes with the opening of new seed plants by several large international companies. Pioneer, Syngenta, Limagrain, KWS, Bayer, Maisadour and others have already launched or are building their production facilities in the Ukraine. Thus, the import of corn seed decreased 1.7 times, from 54.1 thousand tons in 2014, to 31.4 in 2016. The situation with the seeds of oil crops is almost identical to cereal crops. Varieties of soybean are mainly Ukrainian; seed of sunflower and rape are imported.

In 2016, in Ukraine the share of imported seed comprised 10% of the total import of agrarian products. Sunflower and corn seeds amounted to 81% of seed import. According to the State Fiscal Service of the Ukraine, in 2017, Ukraine imported 66 thousand tons of planting materials, with almost 50% of this import being corn, and 35% sunflower. 


Established in April 2010, the Seed Association of Ukraine (SAU), unites leading international and Ukrainian companies that operate in the field of plant breeding and seed production, and own breeding and genetic products. The association represents the interests of seed manufacturers and suppliers and brings together leading international and Ukrainian companies that work in the field of plant breeding and seed production in Ukraine.

The association’s governing bodies are the general assembly of the association and the board. The general assembly is the highest governing body of the association and meets once per year. The board is a standing collegiate governing body of the association that convenes between general assembly meetings. The general meeting determines the quantitative composition of the board. Since July 2017, Viacheslav Gavrylianchyk (Syngenta Ukraine) has been the chairman of the board. The executive body of the association is the executive authority, headed by the executive director of the association. To date, the executive of the association is Susana Hryhorenko.

SAU’s key purposes are to facilitate the formation of a competitive seed market in Ukraine and to open global markets for the Ukrainian agricultural sector. The association protects its members’ interests as well as promotes the international standards of the seed industry in Ukraine.

For these purposes,  in 2011, SAU became a full member of the European Seed Association (ESA) and, in 2012, SAU joined the International Seed Federation (ISF). Since then, the representatives of SAU have participated in various meetings of ESA and ISF. Seed Association of Ukraine was also visited by the Secretary-General of both ESA and ISF in Kyiv. To date, the latest event conducted by the Seed Association of Ukraine was the meeting with the Technical Director of ESA, Mr. Christophe Rouillard (Kyiv, 30 April 2018) regarding the prospects of recognition of equivalence of the Ukrainian seed certification system

SAU, as an independent professional association of seed industry enterprises, is actively involved in the process of keeping track of EU reviewing the Ukrainian request for equivalence. Organization works with both Ukrainian authorities and European Seed Association, providing support, preparing necessary information, translating key texts and drafting letters. Updates on the status of equivalence are constantly prepared and given to the member-companies and parties involved.


Editor’s Note: Siuzana Hryhorenko is Executive director of the Seed Association of Ukraine