Pakistan export sheep cleared – but still in limbo – National Rural News – Livestock – Sheep – Queensland Country Life

An interesting and not unexpected result.


INDEPENDENT test results have proven the Australian sheep exported to Pakistan by Wellard last month to be healthy and disease free.

But the industry will keep the market in voluntary suspension for an indeterminate period, regardless of what happens to the remaining 10,000 sheep.

A statement from Wellard last Friday said the blood samples – drawn from the sheep by an independent committee appointed by the Sindh High Court in Pakistan and tested at the world-renowned Pirbright Institute reference laboratory in England – proved the sheep were free of infectious diseases and posed no threat to human or animal health in Pakistan.

Wellard Managing Director Mauro Balzarini said the institute’s judgment was further and final endorsement of the health of the sheep.

Mr Balzarini said from the outset, Wellard, PK Livestock and the Australian government claimed the sheep were in fact healthy and fit for human consumption.

He said the Pirbright report “validates our belief and our efforts”.

“We refused to accept the culling process forced by the Sindh Livestock Department and have done everything in our power to ensure their welfare was protected after we were forcibly removed from caring for them,” he said.

The Sindh High Court is now considering the Pirbright report.

The Court has yet to make a decision, on an application by PK Livestock and Wellard to overturn the original cull order issued and enforced by the Sindh Livestock Department.

The sheep remain in the care of PK Livestock and Wellard pending the Sindh High Court decision, which was expected on Wednesday.

DAFF said it would provide further information once the final Court decision was made and can be verified through official channels.

Sheepmeat Council of Australia chief executive officer Ron Cullen said the industry had imposed a voluntary moratorium on live exports to Pakistan and Bahrain due to the recent controversy over the forced cull.

Mr Cullen said the moratorium’s timeline was indeterminate, with significant changes needing to be made around the Pakistan market before any more Australian sheep are sold there again.

“The Pakistan situation was an isolated incident and I don’t want to underplay it, because from the reports we’ve heard it was a horrendous situation, but it wasn’t related to our live export system or the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS),” he said.

“It was civil unrest and we’re talking to DAFF now about how to address that long-term.

“They’ve got an investigation underway into why ESCAS failed.

“The exporter self-reported a loss of control of the ESCAS supply chain which triggered an investigation and that shows ESCAS is working.

“But until that investigation is complete we’re not going to be able to comment or understand the full implication of where it may lead to now.”

Mr Cullen said until the Court ruled on a final decision, the fate of the remaining 10,000 sheep would also remain in limbo.

He said the court would either rule the sheep must be processed for human consumption or the controversial cull would continue, which Pakistani media reported as being brutal and inhumane.

But he said despite the Court’s ruling the Council wanted animal welfare to be “first and foremost” in considerations.

Mr Cullen said the exporters and importers were in control of the sheep again and looking after their health and welfare, after being marched off the premises at gunpoint by Pakistani authorities, when the situation first arose, leading to the enforced cull.

Council president Ian McColl said although industry had voluntarily suspended sheep exports into Pakistan and Bahrain, there’d been little or no activity in Pakistan for a considerable time.

“Wellard were looking at doing some business in that market, potentially long-term, but that won’t be happening now, until we get better assurances in place,” he said.


The Wellard shipment of 21,000 sheep first hit troubled waters after it was redirected from Bahrain to Pakistan last month.

Pakistani authorities seized control of the shipment and culled about 7600 sheep, amid uncertainty over their condition.

A court injunction was imposed to protect about 10,000 remaining sheep while independent authorities in England conducted the diagnostic analysis, to determine their exact health.

Bahrain quarantine officials rejected the sheep on quarantine grounds, reportedly due to the presence of scabby mouth disease – but testing on arrival in Pakistan cleared the sheep of any ill-health concerns.

SCA vice president and WA sheep producer Jeff Murray said the controversy had caused sheep saleyard prices to drop dramatically over the past two months, when supply to Middle East markets became insecure.

Mr Murray said the dramatic price slump was reflected right through the lamb market, with mutton and breeder sheep sales also down 50 per cent from last year’s prices.

“That’s a big loss for the industry,” he said.

“You can only sell sheep once so you can’t recover that money in the next year.”

Mr Murray conceded the Pakistan controversy was poorly timed for Australian sheep producers, especially in WA.

“Our cattle producers in the north are still wearing the impacts of the live cattle ban last year and now sheep producers are wearing the current problems of what’s happening in Pakistan,” he said.

via Pakistan export sheep cleared – but still in limbo – National Rural News – Livestock – Sheep – Queensland Country Life.


Belarus, Russia Remain Divided over Potash Business

Interesting article from the Jamestown Foundation. Given Russia’s dominance of the potash market (potassium fertiliser), these machinations will inevitably affect prices here.

By Sergei Blagov

Belarus’s leader has accused Russian tycoons of plotting to bribe him, and the accusations came as the latest twist in bilateral efforts to forge new potash business ventures.

On October 16, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka made a highly unusual claim that he was offered $5 billion in kickbacks by unspecified “Moscow oligarchs.” The anonymous Russian tycoons allegedly offered huge kickbacks (or “otkat” in Russian) in exchange for Minsk selling the country’s only potash producer and exporter, the state-owned Belaruskali, for $10 billion.

The Belarus strongman claimed that the “otkat” was offered by a Russian insider, described as “Misha.” Lukashenka further argued that Belaruskali’s actual price was estimated at $30-32 billion (

The allegations, quite unusual even by Lukashenka’s colorful standards, followed prolonged attempts by Belarus and Russia to form new, joint potash businesses.

Back in 2005, Moscow and Minsk moved to create the Belarus-registered Belarus Potash Company (BPC). It is now co-owned by Russia’s potash producer Uralkali (50 percent), Belaruskali (45 percent) and Belarus Railways (5 percent).

In 2011, the BPC exported 12.9 million tons of potash, including 7.7 million tons from Belaruskali and 5.2 million tons from Uralkali. The BPC is estimated to account for nearly 40 percent of the global potash market.

In May 2012, Belarus and Russia decided to create a new joint venture, Soyuzkaliy, on a parity basis that would replace the BPC. The new entity would be registered in Switzerland, and it is expected to start operations in February 2013. However, Soyuzkaliy may not be able to start operations before Belarus and Russia agree on potash sales volumes and pricing policies.

Companies from Russia, China and India reportedly indicated interest in Belaruskali privatization. In July 2012, Lukashenka announced that Belaruskali’s controlling stake was not for sale, at least below $30 billion (

Lukashenka’s latest remarks, made during a meeting with Russian journalists, came as an affront to Moscow’s perceived insistence that Russian businesses should be given greater access to the process of privatization in Belarus. On July 18, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev urged the Belarusian government to expedite Belaruskali’s privatization ( By floating these bribery allegations, Lukashenka apparently indicated his continued reluctance to allow Russian businesses to control key industrial assets in Belarus.

via Jamestown Foundation Blog: Belarus, Russia Remain Divided over Potash Business.

Jim Rogers and the Outlook for Agricultural Commodities

Successful Singapore-based investor Jim Rogers expressing his views on the current investment climate, and the outlook for agricultural commodities. I would agree that investment in farmland, and farm-associated enterprises, is a prudent choice. Jim Rogers rarely calls it wrong.

EU, US should abandon biofuels: UN rapporteur — – EU Business News

Some good sense from the UN, even if it does clash with the CO2 abatement desires of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

EU, US should abandon biofuels: UN rapporteur — - EU Business News

Not only are valuable food commodities like grain, oilseeds and sugar being diverted into biofuel, but also straws and other by-products that could be effectively value-added in other agricultural ventures, like ruminant production. Instead, EU biomass-burning power stations burn these substrates in processes significantly more expensive and more polluting than garden-variety gas turbines.

As world population peaks near the middle of this century, and rising affluence for the next several centuries hopefully continues to drive increasing demand for milk, meat and eggs in developing countries, it is to be hoped that both the EU and US can phase out their biofuel mandates step by step until this commodity class becomes redundant. Prices for basic food commodities should still remain robust, and it should be remembered that biofuel mandates drive up fuel costs for farmers also.

17 October 2012, 15:27 CET

— filed under: UN, FAO, food, farm, commodities, US, energy

(ROME) – The European Union and the United States should stop using biofuels as they are hampering food production, the UN’s special rapporteur for the right to food Olivier De Schutter told AFP on Wednesday.

“Europe has to do more than lower its targets for production of biofuels as it is planning. It has to have the political courage to abandon them and the United States should do the same,” he said on the sidelines of talks in Rome.

“It is dangerous in a situation in which global cereal stocks are so low to set unattainable objectives,” he said.

The EU, which is to unveil its new objectives on Wednesday, set an ambitious target in 2008 by saying that renewable energy should represent 10 percent of energy consumption for the transport sector by 2020.

The current share for renewable energy is 4.5 percent.

In the United States, 40 percent of corn goes for energy production.

“Production of biofuels relies on advanced networks for export which rarely benefit small producers since they are in the hands of big business. So their impact on reducing rural poverty is negligible,” De Schutter said.

Big companies often do not care much about developing infrastructure and “generally do not keep promises”, he added.

Biofuel production has also been accused of serving as a justification for large-scale land grabs.

A World Bank report in 2010 said the sector accounted for 21 percent of land bought in developing countries. A more recent World Bank report said that figure had risen to around a third of arable land being purchased.

via EU, US should abandon biofuels: UN rapporteur — – EU Business News.

Accredited local laboratories to increase agriculture export

This is a very positive development. The potential for export of fruit, vegetables and herbs to the CIS and Middle East, and wine and grape concentrate worldwide, from Georgia is tremendous, but few exporters have proper food safety and QA systems in place that foreign buyers trust. Internationally accredited local labs will help in this process tremendously.

Accredited local laboratories to increase agriculture export : By Ia Natsvlishvili : Georgia Today on the Web

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited Wine Laboratory and Multitest, two Georgian laboratories testing agricultural export commodities such as wine, mineral water, hazelnuts and fresh processed fruits and vegetables.

According to the Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI), a monthly business digest, one year long-term project was completed successfully. “It created a key technical barrier in increasing the export of Georgian products to international markets, we (EPI) with the Georgian Accreditation Center (GAC) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have been working to improve Georgia’s capacity in accreditation and conformity assessment,” the EPI newsletter reads.

EPI, the U.S. Government’s Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) administered by USAID, said that now these two Georgian laboratories are opening the doors wider to international markets and allow a wider range of products to be more competitive. In order to meet ANSI accreditation requirements, the laboratories had to implement international standard ISO/IEC 17025 “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.” This year, these laboratories have started introducing quality management systems and improving technical equipment.

A key component of this activity was to support Georgian food testing laboratories in achieving internationally-recognized ac­creditation. Labo­ratory recognition is achieved through the mechanism of mutual recognition agreements provided by International Laboratory Ac­creditation Cooperation (ILAC). According to the EPI, since the Georgian Accreditation Center is not cur­rently a signatory party to the ILAC multilateral agreement, ANSI was invited as one of the world’s leading accreditation bodies to con­duct assessments and accredit Georgia’s laboratories.

It is expected that exporters of agricultural produce will have improved access to higher market seg­ments such as established supermarket chains that require internationally-recognized tests.

The EPI conducted an impact assessment of internationally-recognized laboratories on hazelnut exports, as one of the main export products for Georgia. The estimated monetary impact ranged from $7.5 million to $18.8 million per year on the value of hazel­nut exports.

Wine Laboratory’s international accredita­tion will also simplify wine exports. Wine exporters will more easily obtain the label cer­tificate from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) when exporting wine to the U.S. Before export to the U.S. commences, an exporting company is required to obtain a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each unique product/label.

For this, according to the newsletter, the exporter is required to submit wine test protocols along with other documents. In the case of a new registration of a wine/label, the products, in most cases, had to be retested in the U.S. requiring additional time and costs for exporters.

Last year, with the help of the Georgian National Investment Agency (GNIA), about 170,000 bottles of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages totaling 510,000 lari (approximately $315.000) was sold in China, Japan, US, Ukraine and Israel.

By Ia Natsvlishvili


via Accredited local laboratories to increase agriculture export : By Ia Natsvlishvili : Georgia Today on the Web.

Agricultural Productivity in Georgia

TSU’s ISET poses questions regarding why Georgia’s agricultural productivity remains below 1992 levels, while other former Soviet republics have made substantial progress.

Some points to consider:

(1) Law and order in the Georgian countryside was arguably amongst the worst in the former Soviet Union until 2003. A lawless situation is not conducive to people investing in their farms, even if they had funds to do so, and so technology that could have enhanced productivity was not introduced.

(2) The civil-war era collapse of the Kolkheti drainage system resulted in vast areas of reclaimed land in Samegrelo, Guria and Ajara suffering indundation. To this date, huge tracts that could be planted profitably to orchard crops are left fallow because the watertable is less than 30 cm below the surface. In country with less than 2 million Ha of agricultural land, this is a major loss of potential that has yet to be seriously addressed. Other CIS countries have not suffered this problem to the same extent to my knowledge, even swampy Belarus.

(3) The degradation of the country’s irrigation system has also held back increases in productivity. In Central and Eastern Georgia, availability of irrigation water when needed can increase gross margins for vegetable producers by over GEL 10,000 per hectare, or more starkly, represent the difference between a harvest and no harvest. Other countries in the CIS either do not suffer the annual July/August drought that besets Georgia every year, or have irrigation systems that function better than Georgia’s.

(4) Blended fertilisers are sold for almost double the world price in Georgia, and custom blends of solid fertiliser are not available. Until recently only one company made nitrogenous fertiliser locally, Rustavi Azot. This contributes to the staggering statistic that only 40% of Georgian farms use chemical fertilisers at all. Yields of common field crops are hence only 30-50% of international norms, independent of seed and other crop care issues. Russia has amongst the world’s largest potash reserves and cheap gas for making nitrogenous fertilisers, and so for farmers to utilise simple NPK fertilisers is more affordable.

(5) The statistics provided consolidate all agricultural subsectors, but  productivity changes have not been uniform across all subsectors. For example, physical productivity of the corporate poultry subsector in Georgia is reasonably high, approximately 20% below European standards but still equivalent to poultry juggernauts like Thailand and China. Profit margins from such operations in Georgia are much higher than more competitive markets. Rays of sunshine like this are obscured by the mass of discouraging data from other, larger subsectors.

(6) Some market factors have held back financial productivity, for example the Russian ban on Georgian wine imports. Georgia’s vineyards have made physical productivity improvements over the past decade, but the collapse of the major market means that this won’t be revealed in the World Bank financial productivity figures. Likewise, subsectors like fresh herbs that used to be shipped almost entirely to Russia have suffered major blows, despite making improvements in physical productivity, which will affect the World Bank figures.

(7) Ukraine and Russia have been leasing large tracts of land to several hundred foreign farming companies over the past two decades, who bring modern European and North American technology and management techniques to their own enterprises. Inevitably, neighbours will copy their techniques, and local executives of these firms strike off on their own to put these skills to work in their own ventures. In Georgia, there are only a handful of foreign farming ventures, and most of them are less than five years old, so there has not yet been the opportunity for these ventures to act as de facto extension centres.

No doubt the incoming Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Economy personnel will be pondering these questions over the next few months.

The Puzzle of Agricultural Productivity in Georgia

By , on October 11th, 2012, in Agriculture, Georgia, Leave a comment

While more than half of all jobs in Georgia are in the agricultural sector, agriculture’s share of value added to GDP was only 11 percent in 2007 (World Bank). And although Georgia was a major producer of food, wine, tea, and mineral water during Soviet times, most of the food products on the shelves today are imported from abroad (FAO).

Yet what is even more remarkable is that Georgia seems to be the only former Soviet republic in which agricultural productivity hasn’t returned to or exceeded its level in 1992. As of 2010, agricultural productivity stood at only 77 percent of where it was at nearly two decades ago.

The graphs below illustrate the puzzle of agricultural productivity in Georgia. The first graph is of agriculture value added per agricultural worker in constant 2000 US dollars (the data come from the World Bank). The second graph is of agricultural productivity relative to its level in 1992, multiplied by 100. If this index equals 100, for instance, this means agricultural productivity during a particular year was exactly the same as it was in 1992. If the index equals 200, this means agricultural productivity has doubled since 1992, and so on.


Note that Estonia and Lithuania are absent from the second graph due to missing data from 1992 to 1994. Nevertheless, it is clear from the figures in the first graph that Estonia and Lithuania have experienced tremendous growth in agricultural productivity over the past two decades.

While agricultural productivity is currently much lower in Tajikistan or the Kyrgyz Republic, Georgia appears to stand alone in terms of never recovering to its previous level of agricultural productivity.

So, the question remains: why hasn’t agricultural productivity improved in Georgia over the past two decades, while it has at least recovered in every other former Soviet republic? It is even more puzzling to consider why agricultural productivity has grown by nearly 200 percent in Armenia since 1992, while it has declined in Georgia since then. These are certainly interesting questions for future research.

An interesting initiative from the Ukrainian government; tax-free farm ventures on land leases from the State. By comparison, all farm ventures over 2 Ha in Georgia must pay income tax, be they on freehold land or state land.


Ukraine, already one of the world’s top producers and exporters of grain, is floating a bold plan to boost domestic harvests by offering to lease out millions of hectares of unused, government-owned farm land.

Billed by authorities in Kiev as Ukraine’s response to rising concerns over global food security, the project could lure in billions of dollars in investments, helping Ukraine achieve its much-hyped goal of harvesting more from its famously-rich black earth by doubling yields and annual crop volumes.

Mykola Prysyazhnyuk, Ukraine’s agriculture minister, told beyondbrics that, this year and next, investors would be offered 50-year leases, tax free status and unlimited export rights for crops farmed on 2m to 4m hectares of arable land not currently being used.

If the pilot project proves successful, the country could offer more land in future.

“Our nation today has about 10m hectares of land” which is not being farmed at…

View original post 459 more words