Horticultural sector in Ukraine: results of 2023 and expectations for 2024

Since the beginning of full-scale invasion in 2022 horticultural production returned to pre-war volumes.

Vegetables from RijkZwaan Ukraine

Read below the expert opinion of the President of the Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Association (UPOA) Taras Bashtannyk in the interview for SEEDS.

How did the geography of horticultural crop production in Ukraine changed from the beginning of full-scale invasion?

Watermelons f.e. used to be produced mainly in the Southern regions of Ukraine, but now they are grown in the North and in the West: in Sumy, Chernihiv, Volyn  and Zhytomyr regions. Watermelons are growing everywhere now.

In 2022 we observed a temporary shortage of watermelons due to occupation of Southern regions of Ukraine, but in 2023 the rest of Ukraine expanded its area under this crop in order to replace Kherson. In 2023 there were no problems with local production to supply to domestic market.

If we talk about all the berries, then this is, first of all, western regions of Ukraine: Volyn, Rivne, Zhytomyr, Ternopil, Lviv, Vinnitsa. There was traditional berry growing there anyway.

But there is no single trend for this year. Some people plant blueberries, some – strawberries, some – raspberries. Blueberries, perhaps, more.

What are the most produced berry crops apart of  blueberries?

Traditionally, top 3 of most produced berries in Ukraine are the following: 1- strawberries (in terms of production and consumption volumes), 2 - raspberries, and 3 - blueberries.

There may not be such a boom in acreage as there was 4-5 years ago, but still, blueberry acreage in Ukraine is expanding. Farmers are planning 25 hectares, 50 or 15, and some up to 100 hectares of new plantations in 2024.

“The situation with berries is relatively stable, except for raspberries. Raspberries fell in price in 2023, which was expected, because the production areas under this crop grew too much. I think this situation will last for at least another year.”

Thanks to the local government program supported by international donors, Ukrainian SMEs can apply for non-refundable grants to start or expand their horticultural business.

What to expect in Ukrainian horticulture in 2024?

The situation is very fragile. But we shouldn’t expect high prices for vegetables. All main niches have already been filled; there will no longer be extremely high prices for vegetables as it happened in 2022. May be just with single crops like we currently observe with potatoes. But this happens once every 10 years. (more on potato situation)

In season 2022-2023 Ukraine successfully replaced vegetable production lost in the occupied Southern territories by starting or expending production in other regions. Where half of the producers are new players, the other half are those who are simply expanding their production capacity, especially thanks to grants.

With the full-scale invasion we lost, I hope temporarily, the most important regions of production and storage of horticultural products – the Southern regions of Ukraine. The big area and the infrastructure for storage and processing of these products, as well as the source for irrigation - Kakhovka reservoir, have been destroyed . It is not that it is significant - it is an irreparable loss for this region, nature and ecology as a whole.

Which grant programs will be available in 2024?

From the Ministry of Agrarian Policy these are mainly grants for orchards. Not so many for cooling, storing and post-harvesting solutions.

There are also grants from the Ministry of Economy for freezing, sorting and processing equipment. But those programs do not fully cover the assortment of equipment for berry production.

Therefore, the grant for the orchards is the “locomotive” that drive the horticultural sector.

You mentioned the grants for processing, but what is the current situation with the processing of berries in general, and, in particular, thanks to the new grants?

When we talk about berry processing  - it’s mainly freezing. I would not say that we have a significant shortage of processing capacity f.e. for raspberries.

How do the problems with blocking of the border affect the export of fruit and vegetables?

It takes longer to deliver goods from Ukraine to export market, but it does not affect their quality significantly. However border problems affected the logistics which became very expensive due to queues. The cost of transportation increased. And as a result the earning capacity of Ukrainian producers is much lower.

Source: https://www.seeds.org.ua/novi-grantovi-programi-istotno-vplinuli-na-rozvitok-yagidnictva-v-ukraini/

State Programme https://dotacii2019.minagro.gov.ua/