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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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 to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid