site.btaGovernment Vows to Back Demands of Grain Producers against Ukrainian Imports
The government Wednesday vowed to back the demands of grain growers against Ukrainian grain imports. Caretaker Minister of Agriculture Yavor Gechev told reporters in Vidin: "We will listen to the demands of the protesting farmers, we will ask Brussels for additional measures to ensure corridors for the export of Ukrainian grain".
The Minister pointed out the necessity for measures based on EU legislation, since the problems at hand cannot be resolved on a national level. Gechev stated: "I want this clearly heard in Brussels: Countries that are closer to the conflict in Ukraine are paying a much higher price. Solidarity in Europe must also be directed towards its own farmers. I hope that Europe will react quickly."
The Minister said that sunflower import from Ukraine has increased 20-fold in one year, and no market can absorb that much additional volume. According to him, even if the war got resolved immediately, the imbalance in the Black Sea region is unlikely to disappear quickly due to high insurance rates for transporting grain over the Black Sea. "Imports of other products - dried milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables - have also increased, causing problems and giving producers a reason to protest," Gechev said.
Hundreds of grain producers from the Burgas, Varna and Dobrich regions protested by using agricultural machinery to block traffic in Northeastern Bulgaria. There were also protests in other places in the country. Silistra, on the Danube, saw protests from fruit growers and livestock farmers.
National Grain Producers Association Deputy Chair Iliya Prodanov said that producers demand an end the duty-free import of Ukrainian goods into the EU, protection for Bulgarian production, and fair prices for Bulgarian products. Around 2 million tonnes of sunflower are produced in Bulgaria every year, however, no more than 5-10% of this has been sold to date. That is to say, nearly the entire production of Bulgarian grain growers is sitting in warehouses. About 4 million tonnes of wheat are also lying idle, Prodanov added. According to him, currently the purchase price of the production is about 40% below the cost price. The losses in sunflower alone amount to about BGN 800 million.
Nikolay Kirov, head of the Regional Union of Grain Producers in Burgas said that in just two months a new campaign will start that will result in a 6-million-tonne harvest. "Where are we to store it? How are we to sell it?" he said.
On the Sofia Commodity Exchange, grain quotes were slightly lower last week. The "sell" price for bread wheat is still relatively high - from BGN 620 to BGN 730/tonne, but buyers are giving far less - BGN 400/tonne. More than 5,800 tonnes were sold, buyers were also looking for large quantities - more than 5,600 tonnes. Feed barley offers vary between BGN 410 and BGN 430/tonne, maize is sought at BGN 420-440/tonne. There are requests to buy oilseed sunflower at prices of BGN 770-800/tonne, but sellers are not offering the commodity. All prices are exclusive of VAT.