News / Europe

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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid