Ukraine could lack seeds for cereals for years – French producers

PARIS, April 14 (Reuters)Reduced crop seed production in Ukraine due to the war with Russia could affect the country’s grain production for several years, a French seed industry group said on Thursday.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, is expected to see its harvest shrink this year as the Russian invasion disrupts agriculture.

The expected drop would also include farms growing crops to provide seed for the following year, potentially leaving Ukrainian farmers short of seed for planting in 2023, said Claude Tabel, president of UFS, the association French seed companies.

With production plans for this year already established in other countries such as France, one of Ukraine’s main suppliers, there would be little margin to compensate for what could be a drop of around half of Ukraine’s seed production, he said.

“We are entering a tunnel for the next two years, probably with a lot of disruption for the seed sector,” Tabel told a press conference.

Other organizations have also warned of prolonged effects on Ukraine’s grain supply, as the conflict has destroyed infrastructure and blocked trade in essential supplies like fuel and fertilizer.

By the end of March, Ukrainian farmers had received around 60% of their corn seeds and 90% of their sunflower seeds, the UFS estimated based on a survey of its members, many of whom operate in Ukraine.

France, the largest grain producer in the European Union, typically exports about 100 million euros ($108 million) worth of crop seeds a year to Ukraine, contributing a third of the seed supply of Ukraine which is imported, Tabel said.

The loss of seed production in Ukraine would mainly affect corn and sunflower seeds, he said.

France’s potential to export more spring seeds to Ukraine next year has also been held back by some French farmers who have decided to switch to regular crop production in the face of high market prices, Didier said. Nury, vice-president of the UFS.

For sunflower seeds, the French seed production area in 2022 is now expected to be 16,000 to 16,500 hectares, compared to 18,000 to 19,000 hectares a few weeks ago, he said.

($1 = 0.9281 euros)

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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