The UN FAO world price index fell in March for the 12th consecutive month and is now down 20.5 per cent from a record high one year ago. It is the lowest since July 2021.
The War in Ukraine
Poland and Ukraine have agreed to temporarily stop all Ukrainian grain imports into Poland, although the restrictions do not extend to the transit of grain. Polish Agriculture Minister had resigned earlier in the week over the issue.
Thousands of farmers protested across Romania over the impact of Ukrainian grain imports, blocking traffic and border checkpoints with tractors and trucks.
Ukraine’s first deputy farm minister said his country might export a further 15.6 million mt of grain in the April to June quarter, which would lift this season’s exports to nearly 53 million mt.
However, Russia’s Foreign Minister has warned that Russia may pull out of the Ukrainian grain export deal if the West fails to remove obstacles to Russian agricultural exports. He said a lack of access to insurance and the SWIFT financial messaging system curtails exports.
Cargill, Viterra, and LDC will exit the Russian domestic grain export markets and stop elevating activities (buying grain from farmers, moving it to the ports and loading it onto vessels.) They will still trade Russian grain, but only on a FOB of C&F basis. (Click here for LDC’s press release.)
CME asks whether the war has broken the link between energy and ag prices.
Other market news
El Niño is forecast to return in 2023. Here’s what it might mean for extreme weather and global warming.
There were reports that India could see a one million mt drop in wheat production this season due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms in pockets of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan, resulting in losses ranging from around 25-50 per cent.
However, the country’s Food Secretary said the government does not expect any shortfall in wheat production. He added that the country would “probably end up with the same figure of 112 million mt of production or in the worst-case scenario, there will be a negligible drop.”
Even so, India’s government said the wheat export ban would continue if the country feels uncomfortable with domestic supplies. Meanwhile, the government may relax norms to procure wheat from farmers for domestic reserves.
The Business Recorder is worried about global wheat security, writing that per capita availability has declined from 111 kg per person in 1990 to under 100 kg per person in 2020. Meanwhile, The Economist is worried about rice yields, writing that they have increased by less than one per cent yearly over the past decade.
Argentina, expected to harvest around 25 million mt of soybeans this season, may have to import up to 10 million mt, more than double previous years, mainly from Paraguay and Brazil. Luckily, Brazil is harvesting a record crop.
Agricensus has a long read on the changing dynamics in world soybean flows.
Some US farmers are switching to non-GM corn to meet Mexico’s ban on GM corn.
Brazil’s Agriculture Minister has asked COFCO for further investment in Brazilian railways and waterways and financing farmland restoration.
Egypt has raised domestic food subsidies spending by 20 per cent in its FY 2023/24 draft budget.
Nutrien’s CEO has warned that global fertiliser supplies will stay tight in 2023.
Shell has abandoned plans to make biofuels in Singapore, particularly SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuels).
Danish owner J Lauritzen has signed a letter of intent to build at least two methanol dual-fuelled bulk carriers in Japan, backed by long-term time charters to Cargill.
The global operations director for Cargill Ocean Transportation in Geneva has given an excellent interview.
Farmers protesting against the Dutch government’s plans to reduce livestock numbers have formed a political party.
The Washington Post asks whether carbon-neutral beef is a pipe dream.
Italy’s government has approved a bill banning laboratory-produced meat to protect the country’s livestock farmers.
An Australian company has made a meatball from lab-grown cultured meat using the genetic sequence of the long-extinct mammoth. Meanwhile, a Belgian startup has added woolly mammoth protein to a plant-based burger. (Will Pterosaur Nuggets be next?)
Deforestation associated with oil palm cultivation has declined in recent years in Indonesia. Still, the forest is being cleared at a record pace in a biodiversity haven at the northern tip of Sumatra.
Bloomberg has an interesting short video on how the sector is working to make palm oil more sustainable.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that migrants on the UK’s farmworker visa scheme face systematic bullying, abuse and growing debt.
Reuters has a long read on the failed attempts to raise income for West Africa’s cocoa farmers.
Researchers at the University of Bonn have discovered gene variants in wheat and barley that improve nitrogen utilisation.
Bloomberg has an article on how Bunge is helping food processing companies to innovate.
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