The port of Constanta on Romania’s Black Sea coast has, increasingly, been used as a location for grain exports from across Eastern Europe.

Kildare native Jim McCarthy – who currently farms in Romania – has confirmed that small tonnages of cereal from Ukraine are also making their way to Constanta at the present time.

He explained: “The Ukrainian government is slowly lifting its grain export ban. Constanta is Romania’s most southerly port on the Black Sea.

“It is fast becoming the most important embarkation point for grains produced in Eastern Europe.

“But the problem now arising relates to the logistics of dealing with the additional grain that may be coming into the port from Ukraine,” he added.

“Adding to this is the fact that Romania’s own cereal production base continues to develop.”

Port traffic and grain exports

McCarthy believes that Constanta has the potential to rival Rotterdam as one of the world’s leading grain trading centres.

“Its proximity to the Suez Canal makes it, potentially, very attractive for buyers in Asia,” he further explained.

“Very little grain is moving internationally at the present time. Given current prices, most growers have sold on whatever cereals and oilseeds they had in store, weeks ago.  

“As a result, the challenge of getting produce out of Constanta is not that great at the present time. But this will all change once the 2022 harvest gets underway,” he said.

Crops update

McCarthy provided a spring crops update for Romania and Ukraine during his contribution to the most recent Tillage Edge podcast.

There is now a general acceptance that grain and oilseed production in Ukraine will drop-off significantly while the current conflict in the country continues.

McCarthy confirmed that little or no spring planting has taken place in occupied areas of Ukraine.

“It really is very unpleasant,” he said.

“There is also evidence to the effect that Russia is commandeering grain and vegetables grown in occupied areas of Ukraine for their own use. This is tantamount to a war crime.”

McCarthy estimates that approximately 10% of Ukraine’s cropping land has been affected in this way.

He added: “In the remaining part of Ukraine, the general belief is that 70% of the available land will be seeded.

“But the major concern now is diesel availability. There was enough seed available to meet growers’ needs and enough diesel available to allow crops to be planted out.

“The availability of fuel over the coming weeks and months is now a real worry for farmers in Ukraine.”

“Traditionally, 60% of Ukraine’s diesel came from either Russia or Belarus. This will not now be happening as a result of the current conflict.

“Russia is currently destroying all the infrastructure in Ukraine, rail lines, and roads,” McCarthy said.

“It has been estimated that Ukrainian farmers will need 25,000 articulated truck loads of fuel brought into the country, in order to complete the 2022 harvest.”