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326801

Ukraine could lack seeds for grain crops for years -French producers

PARIS, April 14 (Reuters) - Reduced production of crop seeds in Ukraine due to war with Russia could affect the country’s grain production for several years, a French seed industry group said on Thursday.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, is widely expected to see its harvest shrink this year as Russia’s invasion disrupts farming.

The expected decline would also include farms that grow crops to provide seeds for the following year, potentially leaving Ukrainian farmers short of seed for 2023 planting, said Claude Tabel, president of French seed makers association UFS.

With production plans for this year already set in other countries like France, a leading supplier to Ukraine, there would be little scope to offset what could be a drop of about half of Ukraine’s seed output, he said.

“We are entering a tunnel for the next two years probably with a lot of disruption for the seed sector,” Tabel said during a news conference.

Other organizations have also warned of prolonged effects on Ukrainian grain supply as the conflict has destroyed infrastructure and stalled trade in key supplies like fuel and fertilizer.

Ukrainian farmers had by end-March received about 60% of their maize seeds and 90% of sunflower seeds, UFS estimated based on a survey of its members, many of which operate in Ukraine.

France, the European Union’s biggest grain producer, usually exports about 100 million euros ($108 million) worth of crop seeds per year to Ukraine, contributing to the third of Ukraine’s seed supply that is imported, Tabel said.

Lost seed production in Ukraine would affect mainly maize and sunflower seed, he said.

France’s potential to export more spring seed to Ukraine next year was also being curbed by some French farmers deciding to switch to regular crop production in view of high market prices, said Didier Nury, UFS vice president.

For sunflower seed, France’s area for seed production in 2022 was now expected to be 16,000 to 16,500 hectares, compared with 18,000 to 19,000 hectares a few weeks ago, he said. ($1 = 0.9281 euros).

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide. Editing by Elaine Hardcastle.)

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