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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs