The Ukraine Report: Ag company seeks optimization rather than expansion due to the war

Despite the war, a Ukrainian ag company is producing both crops and livestock and has experienced growth.

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“We are supporting the economy, the country simply cannot live on borrowing all the time. Our economy is the key to future victories. We have to generate profits and provide for Ukrainians. We have to pay taxes and optimize our business processes to get the most out of our work.”

This is Oleg Metkyi, co-owner of Metagro. The company grows crops and raises livestock. Over the past six years, they have increased their land bank from 5,000 acres to 23,000 acres.

“Since 2017, we have bought three more companies. These are three neighbouring farms that we merged into one group. Over the past six years, besides gaining experience, we have been building a regional company. Our primary focus is crop production.”

The farm has been seeking an effective crop rotation over the years. This was determined by the soil and climatic conditions, along with demand and market conditions. After a detailed analysis, Metagro’s land was divided into three zones, for which an effective cultivation method was selected.

“We grow four crops on black soil: wheat, beetroot, soya and corn. In the other zone, we have the same crop rotation, but instead of beetroot, we plant rapeseed. In the Polissya zone, we produce only two crops: soya and corn.”

This year, the farm managed to achieve high yields in almost all crops. However, they are in no hurry to sell the grain. They justify this by blocked borders with European countries and limited grain exports through ports, which presses prices down.

“Actually we did have good results in terms of yields. Corn yielded 12.5 tonnes per hectare, rapeseed 4.2 tonnes per hectare, wheat 8 tonnes per hectare, and soya 2 tonnes per hectare. But it is too early to talk about the profitability of the products sold. So far, we have sold less than half of the harvested grain. Most of it is waiting for better prices in spring or lower logistics costs.”

According to Oleg Metkyi, 2022 was a much better year for Ukrainian agribusiness than 2023. He explained this by the global grain prices and the cost of logistics. Before the war, farmers were thinking about how to harvest a good crop and reduce costs. Today, they are only thinking about how to sell grain efficiently. That is why they have no plans to expand their business.

“Efficient farming is only sustainable when you expand in one area. I have to feel the business, be in the field, and take part in decision-making. Today, the economic and military situation is such that we need to work on optimization rather than expansion.”

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.