Photo by Jordan Cormack on Unsplash.

The harvest in 2021 might become the best so far, says Andrey Novoselov, an agricultural analytical manager at Barva Invest. Ukrainenu asked him to tell about his predictions for 2021. 

2020 was a challenging year for Ukrainian farmers with severe drought in some regions, and too much rainwater in others. 2021 seems to become better and could break records, says Andrey Novoselov, an agricultural analytical manager at Barva Invest, to Ukrainenu. 

“We have had a little more rain and lower temperatures here in spring than we might have expected, but it is not a problem for the winter crops,” says Novoselov, “If we compare with last year, we are experiencing quite a big jump in output this year. The soil is well moistened, and we are experiencing better weather now. It looks excellent.”

“As it looks right now, we just need to have the farmers make sure that they plant everything in time for the rest of the year,” says Novoselov, “I think that it is possible to reach the levels from the record harvest in 2019. The harvest of wheat and barley could become higher than expected, and if that happens, the harvest could be really good.”

Expectations for oilseeds in 2021, compared to 2020 and 2019.

Source: Andrey Novoselov

Expectations for grain in 2021, compared to 2020 and 2019.

Source: Andrey Novoselov

Getting ready for warm weather

According to Kyiv Post, the severe drought in spring 2020 is estimated to have destroyed an area of 234,000 ha, which is 2.6% of all areas with winter crops. According to site SF Successful Farming, in the second half of 2020, the output fell further and resulted in a 16 percent decline in grain exports that year. In 2019, the Ukrainian farmers harvested around 75 million tons of grain, according to Reuters, which was a new record.

Organizations have warned that climate change will affect the Ukrainian harvest in the future if nothing is done to adapt to the expected rise in temperature and rains. 

“Ukraine’s role as an emerging agricultural superpower leaves the country particularly exposed to the negative impact of a changing environment,” wrote Anna Ackermann, a board member at the Ecoaction Centre for Environmental Initiatives, in the Atlantic Council, “Over the last few decades, the Kyiv climate has gradually migrated southwards. Winters have become milder, and summers are now far warmer. The weather in the Ukrainian capital increasingly resembles Odesa in the middle of the twentieth century, without the benefit of Black Sea breezes.”

The temperature development in Ukraine over the last ten years, according to Tradingeconomics. In particular, the winter months are getting warmer and pushing up the average temperature.

Novoselov says that something is being done in the south and central parts of Ukraine, which is most affected by the draughts. 

“I have heard from a lot of farmers in the central and south part, who had huge issues with dry weather last year,” says Novoselov, “They are putting more sunflower this year because it is more resilient to dry spells.”

“In general, farmers are growing more oilseeds but except soybean. Soybean is more expensive to grow, and you need better technology, so it is easier for farmers to grow sunflower, where costs are low, and yields are huge,” he says. 

More demand from China

China became Ukraine’s largest trading partner in 2019 and remained so in 2020, partly because of the massive demand for Ukrainian agricultural products. Some analysts feared that would not continue in 2021, as the U.S. and China signed a trade deal in 2020, where China committed to importing a lot of agricultural products from the U.S.  

Novoselov, however, is not so worried after seeing Chinese demand in 2021 so far.

“There is still a huge demand from the Chinese side, despite the trade deal with the U.S.,” he says, “China is not only buying from the U.S. Among other things, we see a huge Chinese demand for barley as well as sunflower.”

What about demand from the Middle East? The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has travelled a lot to the Middle East and talked-about exports.

“We have not seen any influence of it,” says Novoselov, “Nothing really big.”

Andrey Novoselov, Foto: Barvainvest