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UAVK: Ukraine cannot do without potato imports

Ukrainian potato storage facilities are virtually empty as of early December 2020. There are only a few large operators that have enough potatoes for a maximum of one to two weeks in Ukraine, writes SEEDS.

Such shocking data was announced by the executive director of the Ukrainian Association of Potato Producers (UAVK) Oksana Ruzhenkova during Interfax-Ukraine’s press conference “Peculiarities of Ukraine’s Domestic Market of Potato Provision” on December 29, 2020.

“Unfortunately, the likelihood of Ukraine becoming an import-dependent state for potatoes is quite high. We really need comprehensive help. Journalists constantly contact us with questions and for more than 4 months we refused to provide comments on the amount of the actually harvested crop and its availability in storage facilities. I think that colleagues will agree that this information needs to be made public. Our vaults are virtually empty as of early December 2020. There are only a few large operators that own a sufficient amount of potatoes, which would be enough for Ukraine for a maximum of one or two weeks,” says Oksana Ruzhenkova.

Read also: Dirty potatoes on supermarket shelves as an indicator of problems in the Ukrainian vegetable industry

“Of course, there are small producers on the market who have 1,000 tons of potatoes in storage. These are mostly newcomers who came to this segment only in 2020. They don’t know how to work with supermarkets yet. If a lockdown is introduced now, it will be very difficult to get their products on supermarket shelves. Traders who act as potato suppliers to supermarkets are unlikely to find these newcomers on their own.

“Therefore, we now see an increase in potato imports, not so much from Russia since in 2020 it did not have such a good harvest as in the past and not so much from Belarus but from Europe. In 2020, realizing that COVID-19 will continue, Europe has significantly expanded the plantings of food potatoes,” the expert notes.

“They managed to reorganize and switch from potatoes for processing to food and after 2 years of drought, finally Europe had a good harvest. Germany and Poland managed to purposefully invest money in the establishment of irrigation and actually solved their problem with growing potatoes. The surplus of potatoes and their cheapness is pushing European companies to the Ukrainian market, which is experiencing a shortage of industrial potatoes today. This problem cannot be ignored,” adds Oksana Ruzhenkova.

“Perhaps potatoes are not yet an export product, but the issue of food security must be resolved. We cannot live for six years in a war and not think about our people, which are constantly impoverished.

“Global climatic changes have a significant impact and lead to a drop in yield. If earlier it was quite possible, given the technology, to obtain 34-36 tons per hectare, today we are talking about stable 25-28. Because it is unrealistic to neither build up the necessary mass nor dig up these potatoes.

“Irrigation is usually the best, but still, even at 45 tons per hectare and with the rise in prices for all material and technical resources, it does not make potatoes profitable,” the executive director of the Ukrainian Association of Potato Producers is convinced.

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