For a long time the Ukrainian agricultural business existed in relative comfort zone. The presence of large Russian market which is geographically close and not too demanding has always been a calming factor for our exporters. Why should you worry about international quality standards, think special features of the product line and export range, if everything is already clear and come before us?
But the fate decided otherwise, and indicators of agricultural products export to Russia in the first eight months of this year fell by 77% compared to the same period in 2014 ($193,3 million and $827,6 million respectively). We cannot say that Ukrainian agricultural business safely experiencing the loss of a large traditional market. Many still do not understand what to do next. Will we be able to cross over and open up new markets? But Ukrainian agricultural sector has already crossed over. For seven months of 2015 the structure of our agricultural export by world regions is as follows: Asia – 46,6% ($3,6 billion), the EU – 25,3% ($2 billion), Africa – 14% ($1 billion), U.S. – ($26,9 billion).
The Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food strengthens the international vector of its activity. We are opening the new markets for Ukrainian exporters. Specifically, Israel is willing to buy the products of the two companies – producers of eating eggs. Egypt recently sent a formal request for 12 000 tons of halal chicken. Saudi Arabia has completed successfully the audit of our quality control system regarding poultry meat. Generally, the Persian Gulf countries are very interested in expanding of Ukrainian production export line. North Africa, Middle East, Asia are promising directions for Ukrainian agricultural exports. Another question is what exactly do we sell there?
We supply there primary corn and sunflower oil. These products bring high foreign currency earnings to the state budget. At the same time, the Ukrainian agricultural sector has huge number of other possibilities. In particular, we may produce competitive niche products. For example, one Ukrainian family company was the first one in the country which started directly squeezed juices production. This useful natural product has already won domestic and is ready to conquer foreign markets. Experiments with ingredients which are common for our region are always an additional advantage at the other markets. The EU has recently approved the Ukrainian certification and quality control system for seeds: our certified seeds will be recognized as equivalent to the European and Ukrainian producers will be able to export them to Europe. Another interesting direction is organic and non-GMO products. To keep a healthy lifestyle is very fashionable and prestigious. This explains high demand for such products in the world. Many of the largest producing countries have spoiled their reputation by GMO growing. We are extremely adhering to principles in this issue.
However, by concentrating on high volumes and traditional types of export products, we may miss other opportunities which are also important for Ukrainian business. For example, India imports a lot of onions. This is another opportunity for domestic producers. We talk a lot what the European Union allocated for Ukraine small export quotas, which are rapidly exhausted. But many of these quotas are not used! For example, lamb (1500 tons), sugar syrups (2000 tons), starch (10 000 tons), fungi (500 + 500 tons), sweetcorn (1500 tons), garlic (500 tons).
This is just a small demonstration on how to use the potential of agriculture in Ukraine. Each of us will have even more incentive to reveal it. To adapt business to the new conditions, to find a niche product or switch to products which are in demand by foreign partners – these are the tasks that cannot be solved in one day. But we have no other options. Moreover, we have an understanding in what direction we need to develop as well as a willingness to work on the result. And this is the most important thing.
Text: Oleksiy Pavlenko, Minister of Agrarian Policy and FoodПідписуйся на наш Telegram. Стеж за новинами у зручному форматі!