UKRAINE (5 February)
Area planted with winter cereals at 6.8 million hectares is only 86 percent of the targeted area and nearly 1 million hectares below the five year average. Adverse weather conditions during the planting season, lack of sufficient seeds, agricultural machinery, fuel and fertilizers have reportedly contributed to lower than planned area being planted with winter crops. Latest reports indicate that more than 70 percent of the crops are in good conditions, usually the figures is much lower with winterkill ranging between 1 and 1.5 million hectares. Adequate soil moisture and snow cover are seen to reduce winterkill this year. Last year winterkill was estimated at 3.7 million hectares, which resulted in a record low winter cereal harvest of 4.2 million tonnes compared with about 22 million tonnes in 2002. The government is attempting to increase area under spring crops to counter the drop in area under winter cereals. Aggregate cereal harvest in 2003 amounted to 19.9 million tonnes compared with 36.3 million tonnes the year before. Ukraine became a net cereal importer with imports estimated at 3.6 million tonnes during the current marketing year. Exports during the 2002/03 marketing year amounted to a record 10.7 million tonnes.