Ukraine denies curbing wheat exports

Ukraine’s government said last week it had not urged grain traders to limit wheat exports, denying local media reports it had done so, and it forecast that there would be no shortages of grain on the domestic market.

“There are no recommendations to limit wheat exports,” Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk told reporters.

“Traders are telling us they will not be able to export more than 300,000-500,000 tonnes of wheat a month and our balance (of exports and consumption) allows for that.”

Ukrainian media reported earlier that traders and the government had agreed to limit exports of wheat due to the threat of future shortages following weather damage to winter crop plantings.

Prysyazhnyuk said drought during the winter sowing in 2011 and severe frosts in January-February had damaged about three million hectares of Ukrainian winter grains and 500,000 hectares of winter rapeseed.

“We expect that all of these areas would be reseeded this spring. We recommend farmers to sow corn, spring wheat, barley, soybean and these crops allow us to keep the harvest at a high level,” he said.

He said Ukraine would harvest 42 million to 50 million tonnes of grain this year, including 15 million to 16 million tonnes of wheat, adding that this would be enough to meet domestic demand.

Ukraine harvested a record of 56.7 million tonnes of grain in 2011, including 22.3 million tonnes of wheat. But this year’s winter crops have been hit by drought and extreme cold.

“There is no threat of grain shortages on the domestic market even under the pessimistic scenario (42 million tonnes),” Prysyazhnyuk told reporters.

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