Grain Shortage in Bulgaria after Ukraine Refuses Exports

Business | February 13, 2008, Wednesday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Grain Shortage in Bulgaria after Ukraine Refuses Exports Bulgarian milk producers are very likely to stage new protests as Bulgaria's cattel-breeding sector descends into a forage shortage crisis, and the government has not done much to alleviate the situation. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

Bulgaria's government failed in its six-month attempts to secure cheaper imports of corn and wheat from the Ukraine after Kiev refused to double its export quota for Bulgaria. This will exacerbate the grain shortage according to farmers.

Bulgarian agricultural producers expected some 250 000 tons of cheap Ukrainian corn in order to make up for the forage shortage.

The interdepartmental committee of the Ukrainian ministry of economics, however, rejected on Tuesday the proposal by President Viktor Yushchenko and the Minister of Agriculture Yurii Melnik to double the export for Bulgaria.

This means that Bulgarian farmers and producers will have to buy the necessary grain from the EU or the USA at higher prices.

According to Krasimir Avramov, chair of the Grain Producers' Association, the real problem is the danger that Bulgarian farmers might switch to using wheat for forage in light of the corn shortage. This in turn would lead to depleting the wheat reserves destined for production of bread and other foods.

Bulgaria's Agriculture Minister Kabil also asked his Ukrainian counterpart for the export of 50 000 tons of wheat but this request was also rejected on Tuesday.

Because of the drought in 2007 Bulgaria produced only 250 000 tons of corn compared to 1 500 000 tons for 2006. According to farmers' organizations, Bulgaria needs 600 000 tons of corn and 700 000 tons of wheat for animal forage annually.

"Switching to the more expensive wheat forage is set to exacerbate further the critical situation of Bulgarian farmers", Avramov said.

He added that the situation would be much better, had the government provided the BGN 147 M subsidies demanded by the agricultural producers who are currently preparing to launch new protests on the issue.

Bulgaria's agricultural ministry has promised to ask for permission from Brussels outside the already allowed BGN 45 M but the request to the Director of EU's Agriculture and Rural Areas Development Directorate was submitted on Tuesday.

According to Bulgarian farmers, in other EU member states they would receive 2,5 kg of forage in exchange for a liter of milk whereas in Bulgaria they would get only 1 kg.
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