Canadian Seed Provider: Products to Ukraine Stalled


Planting season in Ukraine is largely progressing, despite the conflict. According to industry observers, fuel and fertilizers are hard to access for many Ukrainian farmers, and most have had to change their cropping plans.

North American Plant Genetics, better known as NAPG, is a Canadian company producing foundation seed for grain corn, soybeans and sorghum. Since 2016 NAPG has dealt exclusively with a large, privately held farming and agribusiness operation located in central Ukraine.

Claire Cowan is CEO of NAPG, based in Guelph, Ontario. She said that while their Ukrainian partner is progressing with spring planting operations, they have been forced to use seed inventory held over from last year. Claire Cowan explains that NAPG’s foundation seed shipments arrived in the Black Sea region just as Russia invaded Ukraine.

“We had two containers of foundation seed on boats. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the ports were shut down. All containers had to come back to North America. And there’s no commercial transit right now via the Black Sea. There have been incredible efforts to open rail lines into Western Europe, but the percentage that they would typically put through Black Sea ports, I think it would be impossible to make up with rail.”

The Ukrainian season is similar to that of the more northern Midwest states, but the climate is typically drier. Claire Cowan said while their Ukrainian partner is still planting, they have a lot of ground to cover.

“They are very large farms. Last I heard it was 250,000 acres, and that actually puts them on the small end of a large firm over. Ukrainian growing season is pretty comparable to Minnesota, Iowa, on the corn side, anywhere from 90 to 100 days and maturity. In the South, you can get up to 110 day corn, you’d be looking at irrigation. It’s a very dry climate. And then of course as you travel further north got much lower maturity.”

NAPG’s Ukrainian partner is a privately owned agribusiness, but all farmland in Ukraine continues to be held by the Ukrainian government under the old land-collect system. Claire Cowan says that if Russia had not invaded, the land ownership situation might have started to change this year.

“All of the land is collectivized, they haven’t privatized land yet. We’ve been working on opening up land for purchase, but up until recently has been rental agreements with different levels of government association.”

So, at this point NAPG is watching the Ukrainian situation. Claire Cowan says that, with things beyond their control, they can only hope for a harvest this fall and a far more peaceful, normal year next year.

“It’s an unfortunate situation but it’s completely out of our control. So, we are adapting and changing as the situation changes. We’ll see what that looks like over the next year. That is the plan right now.”