Russian Invasion, Crimean Kidnappings, and Water Worries
On March 19, the North-Crimean channel has been opened. The water began to fill first of all the irrigation systems in the Kherson oblast.
The same day, the Russian security service (the descendant of the notorious KGB) had kidnapped the chiefcommander of the Ukrainian naval forces, Mr. Hayduk. At 6:00 p.m. local time, the executive president of Ukraine, Mr. Turchinov, threatened to “take measures including technical and technological ones,” if Mr. Hayduk and other kidnapped Ukrainians were not released in three hours. At sometime in the early morning, Mr. Hayduk and seven other kidnapped people had been released.
This underlies the extreme importance of the fresh water supply to Crimea from Ukraine.
Now the Ukrainian authorities say that Ukraine will not cut Crimea from the water and electricity supply but instead will significantly increase the tariffs on water and electricity. Such measures will cause the sharp increase of the food and feed production in Crimea.
After the annexation of Crimea, the situation somewhat stabilized, though it is impossible to predict for how long. The threat of the full-scale invasion of the Russian troops to Ukraine is still sufficiently serious.
On March 17, the Crimean parliament decided to nationalize all ports in Crimea. The Ukrainian grain traders claim that this will have no significant effect on the Ukrainian grain trade since the grain will be easily directed to ports in Odessa region, Kherson, and Mykolayiv.
The Crimean vine lost its market in Russia because of the differences in standards. The serious problems face Crimean growers of vegetables and fruits since the big share of their market was summer visitors to Crimea. The logistic problems will not allow farmers to transport vegetables and fruits to Russia, while the Ukrainian market for them is also lost.
Though farmers in South and Southeast Ukraine worry about the possible invasion of the Russian troops from Crimea and across the east borders, they started planting spring crops anyway: barley and wheat. The planting of corn, sunflowers, and soybeans will begin in April. The weather and soil conditions are favorable.
The forecasts for the next crop significantly vary among experts. The lobbying company, The Ukrainian Club of Agribusiness, predicts the total grain crop as low as 48-51 mln tons, while the association of grain traders, The Ukrainian Grain Association, predicts 60 mln tons. Between these forecasts is the prediction of the Ukragroconsult company – 53 mln tons.
Only the Ukragroconsult company gave the detailed forecast:
- barley (winter and spring) – 3 mln tons
- corn – 24 mln tons
- total for grains – 53 mln tons (58 mln tons in 2013).
- The forecast for oilseeds is as follows:
- rapeseed (winter and spring) – 2.2 mln tons
- soybeans – 3.1 to 3.3 mln tons (2.6 mln tons in 2013)
- sunflower – 10 to 11 mln tons.
The export perspectives for grain and oilseeds at the moment look much the same as in the previous marketing year.