West indian countries

Importing countries seek alternative grain suppliers

LONDON, ENGLAND — With Ukrainian farmers — at least those who haven’t fled the country or joined the military to fight the invading Russian army — expected to plant about half wheat and corn this spring compared to a year ago. a year from now, countries that have traditionally depended on Ukrainian wheat are looking for other suppliers.

India is about to harvest what is expected to be its sixth consecutive bumper wheat crop, giving it an unprecedented surplus of the world’s second most consumed food grain.

“By the end of March, India will have over 24 million tonnes (of wheat) in reserves,” said Alexander Karavaytsev, senior economist at the International Grains Council (IGC) and one of several analysts on the market. ‘IGC who talked about Russia. The impact of the conflict in Ukraine on world grain markets during an online press conference on March 24. “That’s more than 17 million tonnes more than the country’s required reserves for April 1. that for next season it could have an impact on what the government decides to do.

Among the countries that could seek to replace Ukrainian wheat with shipments from India are neighboring Bangladesh and Indonesia, Karavaytsev said, noting that freight rates would be cheaper from India to one of the Asian destinations that generally import wheat from Ukraine.

“The quality of Indian wheat has improved and some varieties are even suitable for the production of pizza dough and pasta,” Karavaytsev said. “That said, looking at India’s shipping capacity, we believe the volume available for shipping will depend on the government’s supply target for the coming season, as well as shipping capacity. domestic and the cost of shipping from the provinces to the ports.”

India, which generally ranks second behind China in annual wheat production but accounts for less than 1% of exports, has made large deliveries of milling wheat in recent months to Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and in the United Arab Emirates. It also exported feed wheat to South Korea and Thailand, the IGC said.

The Council added that India would be in final talks to start exports to Egypt, with talks underway with Turkey, China, Sudan, Nigeria and Iran.

Others are looking to the European Union to fill the void, Karavaytsev said, particularly countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

“Germany and France still have supplies to ship, and Romania also for the end of the season,” he said.

Ukraine and Russia account for about 30% of wheat exports in a typical year. Roman Leshchenko, Ukraine’s agriculture minister, said on March 22 Reuters 6.5 million hectares of winter wheat were sown last fall, but only 4 million hectares are expected to be harvested due to the war. As for planting spring wheat and other row crops, he expected farmers to plant only 7 million hectares, well below the previous estimate of 15 million hectares.

Maize exports are also affected by the military battle, which has now lasted for more than a month and does not seem to be stopping. Ukraine accounts for around 20% of global maize shipments and is likely to be well below that mark this year, with Leshchenko estimating 3.3 million hectares planted this year compared to 5.4 million in 2021.

With South American crops reduced by drought, importers are likely to look to the United States, the world’s largest corn producer and exporter, to shoulder even more of the burden, said IGC economist Miriam Morath.

“The question is who can fill the void? In the short term, there seems to be only the United States to do it on a large scale,” Morath said.

She said India could potentially export more maize “but mainly to regional markets”.

Partly due to lower imports from China, global maize trade is expected to contract by 8% year-on-year in marketing year 2021-22. Morath described the export outlook for the 2022-23 marketing year as “highly uncertain” due to the war in Ukraine. Not only is the planting season interrupted in parts of the country, but its main ports have also been closed.

As for the war’s impact on Russia’s grain exports, wheat shipments in March held at an almost normal pace, but analysts recently saidBloomberg that few new deals are signed as the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and its NATO allies begin to have an impact.

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