Seed World

Reuters: Ukraine Grain Trade Threatened by Conflict

With the news of Russia invading Ukraine, questions about the future are on the rise. For agriculture and food security, one question rings: what’s the status of agriculture exports from Ukraine?

“Ukraine’s military has suspended commercial shipping at its ports after Russian forces invaded the country,” according to a report from Reuters.

Grain production is a major endeavor in Ukraine — the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN reports in 2021 Ukraine harvested 6,700 thousand hectares of wheat, resulting in approximately 32.2 million metric tons of grains. Barley and rye are major products as well — approximately 9.6 million metric tons of barley and 600 thousand metric tons of rye were produced.

“Russia and Ukraine account for 29% of global wheat exports, 19% of world maize (corn) exports, and 80% of world sunflower oil exports,” according to Reuters’ recent update. “The market is still struggling to get a clear picture of the actual military situation on the ground. The ports in the Azov and Black Sea so far seem not to have been damaged according to the initial shipping agency reports.”

While Ukraine’s biggest exports in grains are to East and Southeast Asia and the Middle East, stopping grain exports from Ukraine could cause damage.

In terms of seed, the main buyers of Ukrainian seeds are Belarus (35%), and EU (31%), as well as Serbia (5%), Egypt (4%), Georgia (4%). USDA predicted that Ukraine was estimated to increase production and, subsequently, exports of all major grains in 2022. It’s not yet certain what this week’s conflict mean for those export predictions.