Ukraine won’t limit barley, maize exports, ag minister says

Ukraine will impose no limits on exports of barley and maize in the current marketing season, Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said Tuesday, adding that the former Soviet republic would export over two million tonnes of grain this month.

"Moreover, we will encourage the exports of feed grains," Prysyazhnyuk said on the sidelines of an international grain conference in Kiev.

The ministry gave no official export data for September, while some observers say the volume could total about 2.5 million tonnes with wheat dominating the shipments.

"Regarding wheat exports… everything will depend on how we will complete winter grain sowing," he added.

Prysyazhnyuk said Ukraine had almost completed winter grain sowing for the 2013 harvest and only farms in the south needed more time due to the lack of moisture.

Weather forecasters said this week heavy rains which covered almost all Ukrainian regions earlier this month would help all crops to sprout and strengthen.

Farms had sown 7.2 million hectares for the 2013 winter grain harvest as of Oct. 15, or 88 per cent of the originally forecast area, official data showed. Most crops have sprouted and are in a good state.

In September, the Agriculture Ministry and traders agreed that exports from the former Soviet republic would not exceed 19.4 million tonnes this season, including four million tonnes of wheat, three million tonnes of barley and 12.4 million tonnes of maize.

Last week, Prysyazhnyuk said the ministry had raised the export limit for wheat for 2012-13, adding a million tonnes to a previous four million tonnes cap.

"We… understand that we cannot export any more than five million tonnes of wheat this season," he said.

Traders and analysts, however, said that the country’s exportable wheat surplus could reach 5.5 million to six million tonnes this season. Ukraine exported 5.4 million tonnes of wheat in 2011-12.

The ministry said last week Ukraine had exported 6.639 million tonnes of grain, mostly wheat, so far in the 2012-13 season.

The volume included 2.528 million tonnes of milling wheat, 662,000 tonnes of feed wheat, 1.748 million tonnes of maize and 1.341 million tonnes of barley.

The ministry said traders had contracted about 4.4 million tonnes of grain, including about 2.1 million tonnes of wheat, for future exports.

Ukraine plans to harvest 45-46 million tonnes of grain this year and exports are seen totalling 20-21 million tonnes in 2012-13.

The country, which consumes 26 million tonnes of grain per season, harvested 56.7 million tonnes in 2011 and sold abroad 22.8 million tonnes in 2011/12.

Analysts have forecast the harvest at 42.4 million tonnes this year and expect exports of about 20 million.

— Pavel Polityuk reports from Kiev for Reuters.

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