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Ukrainian vegetable sector 2023: what to expect

Last year, the Ukrainian sector of vegetable production was challenging. In 2023 the local farmers are adjusting to the situation with the great help of vegetable seed companies and their expertise.

What is the current situation with selection of crops, varieties and hybrids and what are the expectations on the vegetable production in Ukraine in 2023? "Садівництво та Овочівництво”  spoke with marketing manager Grygoriy Shvets of Enza Zaden Ukraine.

The 2023 season started quite intensively. First, the traditional vegetable regions – the Southern part of the Kherson region and the Southern part of the Zaporizhzhya are still under occupation. Before full scale Russian invasion they largely supplied the domestic market with crops like onions, greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes as well as open field tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, watermelons. These two regions were also the main suppliers of early spring carrots, radishes and greens.

Therefore, in 2023 vegetable growers from the Central, Western and partly Southern regions of Ukraine will slightly increase the areas under vegetables  and change their regular assortment in order to compensate the typical "Kherson" crops for the market.

Map by Kurkul. Open field vegetable production in Ukraine in 2021.

Secondly, compared to the previous year, the local price of vegetables increased by 2-5 times, and of melons - by 10 times. This stimulates small farmers to switch from the crops they used to grow before the war onto  vegetable production. The same tendency is observed among the people in rural areas, the households. The expected increase in vegetable production compared to 2022 however is unlikely to cover the volumes that were lost due to the occupation of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, so there will still be a certain shortage of vegetables on the local markets of Ukraine in 2023.

In the early spring period, there will be a significant shortage of fresh vegetables, because due to problems with electricity supply and heating, most greenhouse vegetable producers have postponed the sowing dates. Also, in the summer - early autumn, there may be a shortage of melon crops.

In March 2023 we saw a significant increase in the price of borscht vegetables (onions, carrots, red beet, potato, pepper), because due to the war and occupation of some territories, the area where onions and carrots have been typically grown significantly decreased. It is expected that the vegetable sector will try to adjust in season 2023: existing farmers will extend the sowing areas for vegetables. The majority are farms that previously grew vegetables, have material resources, the necessary equipment and knowledge for effective production, since it is almost impossible to quickly switch to growing vegetables on an industrial scale. The new farmers will enter the vegetable business. These are the SMEs who will grow borscht crops on small areas and those vegetables that do not require large costs for cultivation, in particular, melon crops. And of course the population in rural areas (households) will grow more vegetables for their own needs.

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