News / Europe

During Drought China Turns to Ukraine as Food Source

During Drought China Turns to Ukraine as Food Sourcei
|| 0:00:00
X
James Brooke
July 28, 2012 7:49 PM
The worst drought in half a century is hitting corn and wheat harvests in the United States, the world’s largest food exporter. So China, a major food importer, is turning to a new source of supply -- Ukraine, a nation once known as the breadbasket of Europe. James Booke reports from Ukraine for VOA.

During Drought China Turns to Ukraine as Food Source

James Brooke
LOKHVITSA, Ukraine The worst drought in half a century is hitting corn and wheat harvests in the United States, the world’s largest food exporter.  So China, a major food importer, is turning to a new source of supply - Ukraine, a nation once known as the breadbasket of Europe.

The drought in the United States reinforces expert forecasts that world food supplies will steadily tighten this decade, and that prices will rise.  When grain prices go up, so do the prices of bread, milk, eggs and meat.  When that happened two years ago, riots broke out in Egypt and Mozambique.

By 2050, the world will have to produce 60 percent more food to meet demands from a world population that is expected to be bigger and richer.

In advance, China is reaching out to producers around the globe to guarantee future food supplies.

A century ago, rich corn and wheat harvests made Ukraine the breadbasket of Europe.
Now China wants to lock down a portion of the bounty flowing from the black soils of this farming nation the size of France.

Galyna Kovtok is CEO of UkrLand Farming, or ULF, Ukraine’s largest agri-business.  With more than half-a-million hectares of farmland under cultivation, she negotiated a $4 billion Chinese credit this year for her company.

“This year, UkrLand Farming may become the first company in Ukraine to send agricultural products to China because at this moment, we are actively working to get certified to export to China,” she said. “The first step will be corn, and then we will work on sending other goods.”

When ULF exports corn to China, it will make Ukraine the first country outside the Americas to do so.  And with China's population becoming larger, and richer, China is on track to overtake Japan as the world's largest corn importer.

In Lokhvitsa, a three-hour drive east of Kyiv, Chinese money is financing construction of six grain elevators.  Building for the Chinese market, ULF will soon have almost two million tons of elevator storage capacity.

At the elevators, and in the fields, the equipment is largely American.  In a wheat field, a fleet of four half-million-dollar John Deere combines is harvesting and threshing.

With investments like these, ULF grain yields per acre are now halfway between Ukrainian averages and the high yields of the American Midwest.  But, just as in the United States, farming depends on the weather.

Across the Black Sea region - in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan - drought this year is pushing harvests down by 15 to 20 percent.  Yuri Scherbak, the ULF manager in Ukraine, predicts that his own corn and wheat crops will be down by about 15 percent.

“This year, unfortunately, we are expecting a bit of a drop in production,” he said.  “And the main reason, while we are in a period of drought, is the decrease in quantity of precipitation."

Traditionally, the Black Sea region is the main source of wheat for North Africa and the Middle East.

But this year, on the supply side, Russia may have to suspend exports.  And on the demand side, Africa and the Middle East are now competing with China.

Austin Malloy contributed to this story

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 31, 2012 4:40 AM
Food war might happen midst worldwide severe drought and a famine!?


by: John
July 30, 2012 6:27 PM
I hope this investment continues. The food will obviously be needed in the long-term if not the short. Perhaps it can be used to feed the insects the futureologists say we'll all be eating in 2050!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid