Ukraine Grain Exports – Myths And Reality

Saturday, 23 July 2022 — Moon of Alabama

A deal between Ukraine and Russia aims to ease the global food crisis. – New York Times – Jul 23, 2022

BRUSSELS — Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on Friday to free more than 20 million metric tons of grain stuck in blockaded Black Sea ports in Ukraine, a deal aimed at bringing down soaring grain prices and alleviating a mounting global hunger crisis.

The highlighted claims are as false as much of the other NYT reporting on Ukraine.

Ukraine grain exports reach 47.2 million tonnes so far for 2021-22 – World-Grain.com – Jun 6, 2022

KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukraine has exported 148,000 tonnes of grain in the first five days of June, pushing its July to June 2021-22 marketing year total to 47.2 million tonnes, the country’s agriculture ministry said on June 6, Reuters reported.

The ministry said the total volume included 18.578 million tonnes of wheat, 22.4 million tonnes of corn and 5.7 million tonnes of barley, with corn shipments dominating the June start, Reuters reported.

Ukraine reached 54.9 million tonnes of wheat, corn and barley exports in 2019-2020, but dipped to 44.9 million tonnes in 2020-21, mostly on lower wheat production, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Feb. 1 Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) quarterly report. Before Russia’s invasion, Ukraine had been projected to export 63.7 million tonnes of the grains in 2021-22.

The above numbers are more than 6 weeks old. Back then the difference between projected exports and exports up to June 5 was 63.7 – 47.2 = 16.5 million tons.

Ukraine’s grain exports to reach 2 mln tonnes in June – deputy minister – Reuters – June 20, 2022

Ukraine’s grain exports will increase to 2 million tonnes in June from 1.7 million tonnes in May and reach the maximum volume that Ukraine can ship by land routes, First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy said on Monday.

Since the first report a further 3 million tons of grains have been exported. The total left to export from the last season is thereby likely down to about 13 million tons.

Where the New York Times found ’20 million metric tons’ ‘stuck in Black Sea ports in Ukraine’ (because the Ukraine has mined the approaches)  is unexplained.

As for ‘soaring grain prices’ please consult these charts.

Wheat

Source: Trading Economics – biggerCorn

Source: Trading Economics – bigger

To me it does not look like the recent prices have ‘soared’.

The NYT also claims that the release of Ukrainian exports will be ‘alleviating a mounting global hunger crisis’. In 2021 Ukraine’s share of global wheat exports was 8.5% while Russia’s was 13.1%. Since February exports from Russia had been hindered by ‘western’ sanctions on Russian banking, freight insurance and port access. In connection with yesterday’s deal those sanctions have been at least partially removed. It will be Russian exports that will alleviate the hunger crisis much more than Ukraine’s.

The NYT once had fact checkers who looked out for mistakes like the above ones. That now seems to be uncommon.

The main wheat farming in Ukraine occurs in the east and south where the war has likely led to much less planting during this season than in previous years. It is therefore unlikely that whatever will get harvested will be exported by farmers as local needs will have to be satisfied first.

Source: USDA – bigger

(The map above does not reflect the natural distribution. During the 2016-2020 period pictured above Luhansk and Donetsk had less than the usual production due to the civil war that had started in 2014. Crimea likewise had much less than the usual agricultural production as the Ukraine had since 2014 blocked its water supplies.)

One thought on “Ukraine Grain Exports – Myths And Reality

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.