Poor-qual­ity pes­ti­cides threaten en­vi­ron­ment, ex­ports

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - Contents - BY JOSH KOVENSKY KOVENSKY@KYIVPOST.COM

Ukraine is hailed as the “Saudi Ara­bia of grain" or the bread­bas­ket of Europe, with 50 per­cent of all com­mon wheat im­ported by the Euro­pean Union com­ing from Ukrainian fields. In the past five years, the coun­try’s mar­ket share has dou­bled.

But some of Ukraine’s agri­cul­tural ex­ports are at risk.

Ukrainian traders of agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties told the Kyiv Post that lack of ac­cess to fi­nanc­ing leads farm­ers to pur­chase lower qual­ity pes­ti­cides, some­times pol­lut­ing the farm­ers’ prod­ucts while killing off bees that fer­til­ize crops across the coun­try.

Pesky fi­nanc­ing

More farm­ers lack cheap fi­nanc­ing for top-qual­ity for­eign fer­til­izer, forc­ing them into cheaper, more de­struc­tive op­tions.

Natalia Sh­pig­ot­ska, an an­a­lyst at Dragon Cap­i­tal, told the Kyiv Post that crop pro­tec­tion im­ports such as pes­ti­cides de­clined by 21 per­cent in 2014, or $610 million.

“All the lo­cal pro­duc­ers were fac­ing a lack of U.S. dol­lars and a lack of op­por­tu­nity to at­tract credit from sup­pli­ers of crop pro­tec­tion,” Sh­pig­ot­ska said.

It is dif­fi­cult to know how much farm­ers save by opt­ing for cheaper pes­ti­cides be­cause many of them re­sort to smug­gling.

Buzz around town

The prob­lem is felt most acutely in the bee­keep­ing in­dus­try. Ukraine is Europe’s largest honey pro­ducer, with 75,000 tons of honey pro­duced an­nu­ally – the high­est per capita on the planet.

Ac­cord­ing to Ser­hiy Cherchenko, di­rec­tor of Be Buzzz, a Ukraine honey trader, the coun­try’s in­dus­try faces a cri­sis be­cause pes­ti­cides are killing off bees. “In 90 per­cent of cases, the deaths of bees are caused by the un­con­trolled ap­pli­ca­tion of dif­fer­ent pes­ti­cides,” Cherchenko told the Kyiv Post.

When the bees fer­til­ize plants, they are cov­ered by the pes­ti­cide, used to kill pests that would oth­er­wise de­stroy the crop, and then bring it back to the bee­hive. If the pes­ti­cide is of poor qual­ity or was im­prop­erly ap­plied, one in­fected bee can kill many bees in the bee­hive.

“It’s the low-qual­ity pes­ti­cides that pre­sent the most dan­ger not only to bees, but to any liv­ing be­ing,” Cherchenko said.

The prob­lem has far-reach­ing con­se­quences. Cherchenko called it a “global prob­lem," since the lack of bees means that other crops are not fer­til­ized prop­erly.


Ac­cord­ing to Paul Peters, deputy chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at Ukrainian agri­cul­tural trade firm Agri Fi­nance, cheaper op­tions dam­age ex­port.

In Jan­uary, the Czech Re­pub­lic raised an alarm af­ter au­thor­i­ties found “an­timi­cro­bial agents” in a batch of im­ported Ukrainian honey. “The most dan­ger­ous pes­ti­cides are those that are un­de­clared,” Cherchenko said.

The Czech in­ci­dent led to the loss of Ukrainian honey ex­porters' abil­ity to sell to the Euro­pean Union unti it can pass tests.

The same prob­lems could hap­pen for grain. "If you have some­thing not very good in your grain, you won’t sell it,” Peters said.

A bee­keeper emp­ties honey from a bee­hive in Kharkiv Oblast. The Czech Re­pub­lic com­plained in Jan­uary af­ter an­timi­cro­bial agents were found in Ukrainian honey im­ports. (UNIAN)

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