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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 29-May-2020


  1. Slightly below‑average production prospects for 2020 wheat crop

  2. All‑time high cereal production estimated in 2019

  3. Record cereal exports forecast in 2019/20

  4. Export and domestic prices of wheat increased in April

  5. About 3.4 million people estimated in need of humanitarian assistance

Slightly below‑average production prospects for 2020 wheat crop

Planting of the 2020 spring cereal crops, accounting for about half of the total annual cereal production, started at the beginning of April under drier‑than‑average weather conditions. Improved rains from early May increased soil moisture levels and benefitted crop establishment. Planting of spring barley, wheat and oats was completed in mid‑May, over slightly above‑average areas. Sowing of the 2020 maize crop is expected to be completed by end‑May and the area planned to be sown is officially set at a record of 5.2 million hectares. Crops are expected to be harvested from August.

Despite the difficulties related to the countrywide lockdown and movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 emergency (see box below), planting operations of the 2020 crops were not reported to be affected.

Harvesting of the 2020 winter cereals, mainly wheat, planted between late August and October 2019, is expected to begin in July. Favourable rains in May are reported to have benefitted winter wheat crops, amounting to about 95 percent of the total annual wheat production, but to have only partially reversed the effects of the scarce precipitation in March and April.

Given that the total area sown with wheat, winter and spring, is estimated at a near‑average level of 6.6 million hectares, the 2020 aggregate wheat output is tentatively forecast at 25 million tonnes, 5 percent below the average level.

All‑time high cereal production estimated in 2019

Harvesting of the 2019 crops was completed last November and the aggregate cereal production is estimated at a record of 74.7 million tonnes on account of favourable weather conditions, which boosted yields, and large plantings. Over the last ten years, the area sown with maize almost doubled: from 2.7 million hectares in 2010 to the record level of about 5 million hectares in 2019.

Record cereal exports forecast in 2019/20

Total cereal exports in the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 55.4 million tonnes, about 30 percent above the five‑year average and an all‑time high. The upsurge is mainly due to record shipments of wheat and maize, forecast at 20.2 and 30 million tonnes, respectively, on account of the large domestic outputs obtained in 2019.

In response to the COVID-19 emergency (see box below), on 30 March 2020, the Government set a maximum wheat export volume of 20.2 million tonnes in the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June) in an effort to ensure sufficient domestic supplies and avoid price increases. In addition, on 2 April 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers declared the temporary ban on exports of buckwheat (until 1 July 2020) to ensure adequate availabilities on the national market and prevent price increases.

Export and domestic prices of wheat increased in April

Export prices of milling quality wheat showed an overall increasing trend between September 2019 and April 2020, despite some declines in February and March. Prices increased particularly in April, due to strong demand for imports and concerns over the impact of the March and April dry weather conditions on the 2020 wheat crop. Similarly, domestic wheat prices have been seasonally increasing since last September, with a spike in April due to strong consumer demand and tightening supplies of high‑quality wheat.

In response to the COVID-19 emergency (see box below), in an effort to avoid price increases, on 23 April 2020, the Government introduced State regulations on prices of a range of food items, including wheat flour, buckwheat, pasta, bread, milk and sugar. Furthermore, the Government announced, on 27 March 2020, the sale on the local markets of 160 000 tonnes of milling wheat from State‑owned agricultural companies.

About 3.4 million people estimated in need of humanitarian assistance

The civil conflict, which began in the spring of 2014 in the eastern part of the country, has severely affected the overall food security situation in the conflict‑affected areas and caused the displacement of about 1.4 million people. According to UN‑OCHA , as of January 2020, about 3.4 million people, nearly 8 percent of the total population, were estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. About 1.9 million people in need reside in the non‑Government controlled area (NGCA), while 1.5 million live in the Government controlled area (GCA), including 350 000 IDPs.

COVID-19 and measures adopted by the Government

In response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Government has taken a number of measures , including the implementing temperature screening procedures from 25 February 2020, closing borders and suspending all commercial flights. On 12 March 2020, the Government imposed a nationwide quarantine, closed all educational institutions and prohibited public events with over 200 people as well as private gatherings with more than ten people. On 17 March 2020, the closure of cafes, restaurants, gyms, shopping malls and entertainment venues was also ordered. On 25 March 2020, a State of Emergency was declared.

On 29 March 2020, a draft law was submitted to amend the State budget and to redirect funds from non‑priority State programmes to measures related to the COVID‑19 crisis. On 13 April 2020, the amendment was approved, creating a UAH 64.7 billion (USD 2.4 billion) fund to deal with COVID‑19, which allocates UAH 15.8 billion (USD 600 million) to the National Health Service and UAH 29.7 billion (USD 1.1 billion) to the pension fund.

In addition, UN‑OCHA issued an Emergency Response Plan for USD 165 million. The Plan is aimed at:

  1. Strengthening the health sector and social protection systems.

  2. Supporting local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through grants to re‑organize their activities, reduce job losses and create new job opportunities as well as to minimize the negative impact on the local economy.

  3. Protecting the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households and enhance their food production as a means to prevent potential spikes of food insecurity.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.