October 17, 2003

 

 

Ukraine's Wheat Imports from Canada Due To Worst-Ever Wheat Shortage

 

Ukraine, facing a shortage of 3.5 million tons of milling wheat this season, has started imports of Canadian milling wheat, receiving the first shipment of 60,000 tons, a government official said on Thursday.

 

"We have imported the first 60,000 tons of Canadian milling wheat and plan to import a total of 180,000 tons of wheat from Canada by the year end," Olena Derizhenko, spokeswoman for Ukraine's State Reserve said.

 

"The boat with 60,000 tons of wheat is already in the port of Odessa and it will be unloaded today or tomorrow."

 

Analysts said it was the first time Ukraine had imported significant quantities of grain from Canada since communist times, when Soviet authorities, beset by an obsolete agricultural sector, imported millions of tons to feed the people.

 

Ukraine, once the breadbasket of the Soviet Union and an active grain exporter over the past two years, is suffering from worst ever grain harvest since independence due to bad weather.

 

The country's milling wheat crop fell to about 4 million tons in 2003 from about 11 million tons in 2002. Ukraine needs at least 6.5 million tons of food wheat to cover domestic needs.

 

Earlier this season agriculture officials said Russia and Kazakhstan would be the main grain suppliers to Ukraine this season. Analysts talked of alternative sources, saying that Kiev might also buy grain in the United States, Canada, Argentina or European Union states.

 

On Wednesday, local agriculture analysts said a jump in Russian and Kazakh wheat prices had already caused a fall in their exports to Ukraine. In September, Ukraine imported more grains, 213,700 tons, compared to 285,900 tons in August.

 

They said Ukraine was able to buy grain in Canada or the United States because their prices were competitive against those offered by Russia or Kazakhstan.

 

So far this season Ukraine has already bought 5,000 tons of U.S. wheat, 33,890 tons of milling wheat from France and 117,500 tons of German-origin wheat.

 

Last month Ukrainian state reserve said the country has plans to import about 100,000 tons of wheat in the United States this season.