The Ukrainian government is preparing its livestock industry to ramp up exports across the European market despite the acute problems the sector currently faces due to Russia’s war in the country.
Read the original German article here.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to the destruction of many stables and other facilities in the country, many of which are located in occupied or contested areas.
Despite this, Ukraine is working to pave the way for more exports of animal products to EU countries, representatives of the Ukrainian agriculture ministry told an event during the EuroTier livestock trade fair in Hanover on Wednesday (16 November).
The agriculture ministry is working on “further development and EU integration” for the sector, Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi emphasised.
In June, the EU decided to grant Ukraine candidate status for membership of the bloc.
While accession is expected to take years according to observers, harmonising legislation with that of the EU, including on agricultural matters, is among the conditions for access.
As such, Olena Dadus from the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry’s animal production department explained that, in the field of animal husbandry, “intensive” work is already being undertaken to adapt national laws to ensure Ukrainian products meet the requirements needed for goods to be exported to the EU internal market.
Kyiv hopes this will open up new markets in the EU, she added.
No tariffs on exports?
To assist the Ukrainian economy in view of the war, the EU also decided in May to suspend all tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian exports to EU countries – including agricultural products and foodstuffs – for one year.
This suspension should be maintained for at least 10 years, according to Andrey Dykun, the president of the Ukrainian agriculture council. He explained that, while the suspension of customs duties is important, it can hardly be used by Ukrainian producers at the moment because of the war.
It remains questionable, however, whether this would be welcomed with open arms by EU livestock farmers, as they would then have to compete with duty-free imports from Ukraine.
Though Dadus admitted to EU producers often being wary of the prospect of Ukraine expanding its exports and thus increasing competition in the EU, she argued that the volume of Ukrainian exports would not position them as competition but rather as a complement to intra-European supply.
This should be clearly communicated to the European partners, she added.
Affected by the war
For the time being, however, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine continues to pose major challenges for livestock producers in the country.
In Ukraine, more than a fifth of all cattle and pig stocks are in actively contested or Russian-occupied areas, and many facilities have been destroyed, according to the ministry.
In the poultry sector, widespread damage to farms around Kherson and Donetsk in the east of the country recently led to massive price increases for products such as eggs, according to Dadua.
“I don’t think anyone in Europe has ever seen anything like this, thousands of chickens running around the henhouse looking for food,” farmer Viktor Sheremata of the Ukrainian association of small agricultural producers told the event.
“Ukraine has experienced exactly that – hopefully for the last time,” he added.
Livestock farming, which relies on a constant supply of heat, light and electricity to run the sheds, is also particularly affected by Russia’s current attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
‘Winter is coming’
Meanwhile, Sheremata warned that things are just set to become more difficult with the onset of winter.
“According to the forecast, we are facing ten degrees below zero, frost. This will make it difficult for livestock enterprises, especially poultry farms, to operate,” he said.
Both the ministry’s representatives and Dykun from the Ukrainian Agri Council, therefore, called on the European partner countries to provide generators that could bridge grid failures.
Some small rays of hope still remain, however. For example, it is already possible to cover at least the minimum domestic demand for meat from Ukrainian production, Dadus explained.
Meanwhile, Josef Efken, a German expert on international meat markets from the Thünen Institute, said Ukraine could even benefit from the war, given the international sympathy it has developed since the invasion.
This would give the country a starting advantage for livestock farming when entering international export markets, he explained.
[Edited by Natasha Foote/Zoran Radosavljevic]