The Ukraine Report: Farmers emphasize that Ukrainian grain can compete with global quality

Ukrainian farmers are throwing their hat in the ring with global grain competitors, saying theirs is top notch as well.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage.

17 years ago, we entered the agribusiness and acquired Agro-Region in Chernihiv region. Back then, there was basically a virgin territory with vast areas of abandoned or fallow land. When we started cultivating it, many of our partners considered us crazy. But now everything is different.

Aivaras Abromavičius is a former Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine and co-owner of the large company Agro-Region. The company started with 4 tons of corn per hectare. And last year we harvested 10.2 tons per hectare. This is a typical situation for Ukraine, but it was a long way for Agro-Region. Most of Ukraine’s successful agricultural companies have gone the same way: at the start, they faced difficulties, hired foreign specialists to take up senior positions, traveled to other countries to gain knowledge and experience, and proved that Ukrainian companies and Ukrainian grain are no worse than abroad.

“Today, there are no foreigners among our 605 employees. And when someone tells me about the low quality of Ukrainian grain, I say: “Friends, this is a stage we have already passed. Today, we use the same machinery, plant protection products, and seeds from the world’s leading companies as do European agricultural producers. And it is obvious that the quality of our grain is high too. Moreover, we have 500 hectares under cultivation in the Boryspil district where we produce seeds for global brands like Monsanto, Corteva, and others. That is, Ukrainian quality is fully consistent with European and global quality. This holding has always focused on corn.”

This year, the company will reduce the area under the crop three times, shifting to sunflower and soybeans.

“Growing low-cost crops such as corn and wheat always involves high logistics costs and risks. For these crops, logistics may reach 50% of the ultimate selling price. While the logistics costs for soybeans or rapeseed on the same route are 25% of the final price.”

Before the war, all of Agro-Region’s activities were concentrated on growing grain crops, mainly corn, and building a team for this job. Most of the other issues were handled by outsourcing. This includes harvesting equipment, railway wagons, and logistics as a whole.

“Once the country switched to wartime railways, we knew we needed to invest in integration. We started by forming our own truck fleet — we bought 20 trucks and started building a rail wagon fleet, although we used to export our products only by sea. Reality forces us to be adaptive and prepared for any possible outcome.”

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.