The data of state statistics on potatoes produced in Ukraine do not correspond to real figures and are overestimated by about two-thirds, Vice-President of the Ukrainian Association of Potato Producers Serhiy Rybalko has said.
"The gross harvest of 20-21 million tonnes was in fact 12-13 million tonnes at best," he said, expressing this opinion at a press conference held at Interfax-Ukraine. According to him, statistics, in particular on potatoes, have remained unchanged over the past ten years, while the reality is changing fast.
"Most of the crop is thrown away, given to livestock feed. Potato consumption in Ukraine is about 4 million tonnes, based on the calculations of the Ministry of Health at 120 kg of potatoes per person a year. Multiply this figure by 34-36 million people permanently residing in the country," he said, explaining his assessment.
Rybalko said that in 2020, Ukraine became import-dependent for potatoes, imported about 0.5 million tonnes from abroad, which is about a quarter of the total demand of retail chains.
The representative of the specialized association urged the authorities not to underestimate the size of this problem. "Two years earlier, Ukraine exported the similar volume and replenished the state budget in the amount of more than UAH 3 billion. And now it spends the same amount to pay off the deficit that exists in the domestic market," he said.
Executive Director of the Ukrainian Association of Potato Producers Oksana Ruzhenkova said that statistics should be taken out of the shadows, as it scares off potential foreign investors, which, according to official statistics, is the fourth largest potato producer in the world. Also, inaccurate data was used in the development of a five-year government-sustained program to support potato growing, she added.
"Moreover, when creating a program to support the industry, the agrarian departments of regional administrations did not provide the Ministry for Development of Economy, [Trade and Agriculture] with reliable data on potato producers and their plans for the construction of potato storage facilities, factories and processing enterprises, on the state of irrigation, and so on," the expert said, adding that in this way the amount of UAH 1.2 billion for five years, which producers can count on, is significantly lower than the industry's potential.
Ruzhenkova named the absence of an algorithm for providing financial compensation for the construction of enterprises before the pre-sale completion and processing of potatoes and the refusal of scientific institutions of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences to help in the audit and development of the necessary industry standards, methods, guides, harmonization of European and Ukrainian legislation in the field of industrial potato growing as other shortcomings of the program.