Wednesday, 29 February 2012

EU always do that

The EU ambassador for Ukraine, Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira has been fairly vocal of late with refreshingly direct comments about government policy and decision making.

Generally the government doesn't respond well to criticism acting like a petulant teenager with rebuffles and mumbled denials while shuffling its feet and starring intently at the ground.

"Ukraine has, regrettably, a dismal record on the business climate," Jose said at a meeting for business men and government officials.

"President Yanukovich's pledges, since he was elected, that vertical power was necessary to fight corruption and create an attractive business climate have regrettably produced no results," he lamented.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said it was "surprised" by Jose's comments.

Ukraine ranked 152 out of 183 economies in the World Bank survey Doing Business 2012.  It was 149 the previous year and according to the WB has one of the worst tax systems in the world.

It's a bit like saying it was "surprised" that it snowed this winter.

Monday, 27 February 2012

They think it's all is now

Congratulations to Liverpool who lifted the Carling Cup late last night after a dramatic match that went to extra time and penalties. 

Liverpool must be over the moon.

Commiserations to Cardiff who played a blinder and must be sick as a parrot (may be I should branch out in to sport writing).

I didn't see the game as it was only available on the BBC; I did listen to it on scouse radio over the internet.  Why is it next to impossible to watch major sporting events despite the overwhelming platforms to show them?

Weather warms then cools

We saw a gradual thawing last week with rain speeding up the melting process.

Over the weekend temperatures dropped again - my thermometer is currently reading minus 6 at six in the morning - with snow flurries.  Nice word that, flurries.

The concern now is how those plants that are poking out of the snow and are exposed to the elements will stand up to cold weather.  My instinct is probably OK if it doesn't get too cold and for too long; forecast is for better weather by Wednesday.

Friday, 24 February 2012

February grain exports

February grain exports will be 1.5-1.6MMT, said Nikolai from the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. 

Apparently the low rates of grain exports are associated with difficult and specific weather conditions in the Black Sea, the wrong sort of snow and leaves on the track that hinder the shipment of wheat but not corn.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Is too much sugar a bad thing?

The Min of Ag seem to think so; they have just announced plans to reduce the sugar quota by 1.5% or 0.027MMT to 1.883MMT for the 2012/2013MY.

They claim that will be more than enough satisfy Ukraine's decayed tooth of 38kg per capita and still leave 107KMT for other needs.

Last year Ukraine produced 2.33MMT of sugar, up 50.5% on the previous year.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Vodka Mixer

Yuri the bear spotted earlier today entertaining the kids at a local shopping centre.

Harmless and endearing it was too; my little lad was in awe of the "giant man in a bear suit".

Except he is advertising a local well known strip joint and poker club.


Mind how you go now

Travelling around Ukraine doesn't get any easier in the winter but at least the snow fills in the pot holes.

Walking around is equally treacherous.

In the last three weeks we have seen three relegated to the injury bench; Sandy popped out for a pint of milk and came back two weeks later with a replacement hip; Georg slipped off the kerb and slipped his shoulder out of it's socket; I came off least damaged but continue to limp around on a bruised ankle.

It's a dangerous place is Ukraine, not for the weak, grrr!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Crop condition put in to context #2

Agritel have said "the impact of the cold wave is still difficult to assess."

Truth is we never really know until the snow clears, the first application of nitrogen is applied and the sun warms everything up a bit. 

Even then it is a long way to go until harvest and the stuff is safely in the shed.

5.0 million hectares of maize is being suggested in Ukraine this year.

Crop condition put in to context

There are four oblasts or regional divisions in Ukraine were the crop condition has been identified as being "of concern". 

These are Odessa, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhia; cold temperatures with no or little snow cover will have done for many over wintered wheat and oilseed rape crops.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions reliable statistics in Ukraine are as rare as a none white premiership football manager but my sources indicate that these four oblasts out 28 account for over 20% of the arable area.

If reports are correct regarding winter kill in these regions then Ukraine looks to heading for a significant drop in wheat and oilseed rape production for 2012.

Maize seed is getting hard to come by so I think we can see how 2011 is starting to stack up.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Michaels Foot

Slipped on ice this afternoon. 

Actually it was a plastic bag on top of ice, a lethal combination, down like a sack of potatoes.

Honestly I thought I had broken my leg, ankle, knee the whole lot!  I was expecting to find bone sticking out and my boot filling with blood. 

As you can see by my x-ray it wasn't broken.

Say what you like about the Ukrainian health service and I often do - remind me to elaborate on my near death, three operation, seven holes and only one appendix story sometime - I was x-rayed with minutes of arriving at A&E.

Well done chaps!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Wheat and oilseed rape update

Here is a photograph of winter wheat and oilseed rape taken yesterday from 30,000 feet somewhere between Kiev and Lviv.

Admittedly it is difficult to see the crop beneath a blanket of snow but that doesn't stop everyman and his dog taking a punt on what the level of winter damage might be.

Many of last winters doom and gloom reports suggested similar death rates to this year yet we went on to harvest some pretty respectable crops.

My advice; treat crop reports with caution.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Take note Heathrow

Lviv airport 6:30am this morning, minus 18, a foot of snow, the plane leaves on time!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

I've just heard...

Roy Hodgson IS in the frame for the England managers job!

Back in the USSR

Everyone drives like they are on acid and it smells of soup, borsch to be precise. 

Ukrainian fertiliser prices are increasing while everywhere else they are falling; Syngenta are targeting "higher prices for 2012"; Ukrainian government continue to make noises about export restrictions; dry autumn delays winter crop development, recent cold weather makes what did grow look decidedly risky;

The year has only just started and it's already looking gloomy.  It could be worse;  Roy Hodgson could be in the frame for the England managers job.

Monday, 6 February 2012

The weather in Ukraine... very cold , fortunately I'm in the UK at the moment where I stumbled across this war trophy in the grounds of the local museum. 

The cold in Ukraine has coincided with a lot of snow cover so most plants should be OK assuming temperatures lift to a more seasonal minus 10 some time soon.

Cold in itself is not an issue so long as there is some insulating snow but much of Ukraine's winter plantings went in to the winter in a weak and underdeveloped state so they will be at more risk. 

The Min of Ag is suggesting losses up to 35% which I think is high, 20% would be my estimate.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Normal service will resume shortly...

After a couple of emails concerned that I might have come to a sticky end in rural Ukraine or the secret service had finally caught up with me I thought I should post to let all and sundry know that Ukraine agri blogging will resume shortly.

It's been a busy time with lots of agri-business stuff happening all over Ukraine and Russia, interesting times to be farming in the workers paradise.

Watch this space.