Russia and Georgia: No place for competition – Articles –

The long hoped-for return of Georgian wine and agricultural products to the Russian market will not be without difficulty. Half a decade of absence from the supermarket shelves means that consumers are now used to high quality imports from Europe and the New World, at very reasonable prices. Russian firms in the Black Sea region have also established production operations on a large scale. Counterfeiting of premium brands will be a problem once more.

Not only Georgian now-banned wine and mineral water, but also citrus return to the Russian market very soon, Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili said the other day. In Russia this news was taken rather cool. As it turned out, there is no real competition between Georgian and Russian producers. “The ban on the import of Moldovan wine has played a major role in the development of Russian wineries, and the ban of Georgia’s wine had no effect”, said the expert Eugene Kritsky.

“Georgia was represented in the Russian market is very modestly”, the head of Horticulture and Viticulture Department of Agriculture Ministry of Krasnodar region Eugene Kritsky said. Both wine and citrus are being shipped out in small amounts. “Kindzmarauli” and “Khvanchkara” are being produced Abkhazia and Abkhazia is accessable. So I see no big problem here”.

According to Kritsky, lack of Georgian goods in the market has not become an incitement to strengthen the position of domestic producers. “The ban on the import of Moldovan wine has played a major role in the development of Russian wineries, and the ban on Georgia’s goods had no impact”, he said.

The rest of the article here


via Russia and Georgia: No place for competition – Articles –


Australian example shows sheep are vital to health of hills | News | Farmers Guardian

Many foreign NGO’s in Georgia are opposed to the development of the sheep industry, believing that sheep methane emissions may contribute to global warming, and that grazing of mountain habitats is necessarily destructive. Local satellite studies funded by the Danish government of Georgian stock routes indicate no significant evidence of overgrazing. Almost two centuries of data from Australia support the assertion that carefully managed grazing can be beneficial for the natural environment. From

Australian example shows sheep are vital to health of hills | News | Farmers Guardian

THE National Sheep Association (NSA) says UK governments should follow the lead of Australia, where top-level environmental strategists have backtracked in recent months and acknowledged the importance of sheep in conservation management.

The NSA believes while some environmental bodies in the UK have realised the importance of sheep, there are still too many examples where limited stocking numbers or a total ban on grazing is putting biodiversity and environmental sustainability at risk.

It also creates major hurdles for farmers trying to run efficient and profitable businesses, as well as preventing them optimising production in an era where a rising world population is putting food security at the top of the agenda.

The situation has been similar in Australia – although the virtual disappearance of one bird species means sheep farmers are now being welcomed back with open arms.

Over the last 20 years the Government and various environmental groups purchased more than 11,000 hectares (around 27,000 acres) of farmland in northern Victoria to stop sheep and other livestock grazing there.

However, after 150 years of living alongside livestock, numbers of some species dropped dramatically when the sheep disappeared, particularly the endangered Plains Wander bird (similar in size and appearance to a quail) and some plant species that cannot compete with dominant and invasive grasses.

via Australian example shows sheep are vital to health of hills | News | Farmers Guardian.

Nature paper: Global droughts unchanged in 60 years

Conventional wisdom has been that human CO2 emissions lead to global warming, which correspondingly leads to more droughts and food shortages. This paper in “Nature” refutes this axiom, showing that environmental CO2 and drought incidence are poorly correlated, and there has been no obvious increase in drought incidence over the past century. While we must plan prudently to conserve water and use it very efficiently as industry and agriculture place demands on water supply, planning for an ever-decreasing supply is likely to result in agricultural and industrial development being needlessly hamstrung.

Nature paper: Global droughts unchanged in 60 years « JoNova: Science, carbon, climate and tax

Nature paper: Global droughts unchanged in 60 years

How many images have we seen of drought-stricken cracked land, or been told this is the future? How many headlines have suggested that global warming causes droughts?

Since the end of World War II humans have produced some 85% of all their CO2 emissions, but here is a new study showing that for all those emissions, and for all that warming, droughts back then were just as bad globally as they are today.

Essentially, researchers thought that the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) was the way to measure global drought levels, and they thought that warming would increase global drought conditions. But the PDSI considers only temperature, not humidity, sunlight and wind. This paper shows that when these factors are included, worldwide drought is about the same now as it was in 1950.

Researchers are finally accounting for the fact that a warmer world usually means more evaporation (especially from the ocean) and thus more rain. It’s good to see that someone has crunched those complex numbers on a global scale. Credit to Sheffield, Wood & Roderick.

global droughts

Figure 1 | Global average time series of the PDSI and area in drought. a, PDSI_Th (blue line) and PDSI_PM (red line). b, Area in drought (PDSI ,23.0) for the PDSI_Th (blue line) and PDSI_PM (red line). The shading
represents the range derived fromuncertainties in precipitation (PDSI_Th and PDSI_PM) and net radiation (PDSI_PM only). Uncertainty in precipitation is estimated by forcing the PDSI_Th and PDSI_PM by four alternative global precipitation data sets. Uncertainty from net radiation is estimated by forcing
the PDSI_PM with a hybrid empirical–satellite data set31 and an empirical estimate. The other near-surface meteorological data are from a hybrid reanalysis–observational data set(31). The thick lines are the mean values of the different PDSI data sets. The time series are averaged over global land areas excluding Greenland, Antarctica and desert regions with a mean annual precipitation of less than 0.5mm d-1.


The paper notes AR4 was wrong about this too:

“The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summarized the evidence in the following terms: ‘‘More intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas since the 1970s, particularly in the tropics and subtropics. Increased drying linked with higher temperatures and decreased
precipitation has contributed to changes in drought’’.

Figure 2 | Trends in the PDSI and PE. a, c, e,Non-parametric trends for 1950–2008 in annual average PDSI (averaged over the results using the four precipitation data sets and, for the PDSI_PM, also over the two net radiation data sets) fromthe PDSI_Th (a)andthePDSI_PM(c), and their difference (e).b,d, f,Non-parametric
trends for 1950–2008 in annual average PE from the Thornthwaite equation (b) and the PM equations (d), and their difference (f). Values are not shown for Greenland, Antarctica and desert regions with amean annual precipitation of less than 0.5mmd21. Statistically significant trends at the 95% level are indicated by  hatching. The difference in trends in e and f and its statistical significance are calculated from the time series of differences between the two data sets.

It’s good to see this being reported on The Conversation, ScienceNews, and NewScientist. Naturally, this dangerous information could be misinterpreted (unlike most previous drought studies eh?) so caveats are rampant on The Conversation. The caveats take the usual meaningless and vague catch-all approach:” this paper should not be misconstrued as evidence that climate change is not happening” type of warning. Where were these caveat-writers when all the photos of cracked plains were showing on the evening news?

Now we find that “Drought has not been an effective way of measuring climate change over the past 60 years,” he said. [Michael Roderick, The Conversation]

Perhaps that’s because things were a bit circular in drought science?

Roger Pielke Jr of the University of Colorado in Boulder says that since the PDSI uses a formula that assumes higher temperatures cause more droughts, it was hardly surprising that it finds a link.       [ NewScientist]

Kevin Trenberth doesn’t think this new method is right:

Simon Brown of the UK Met Office in Exeter says Sheffield’s analysis is probably right. “There has been a growing acknowledgement that the PDSI should not be trusted when doing climate change studies,” he says. But one of the lead authors of parts of the 2007 IPCC report, Kevin Trenberth of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, is sceptical. He backs work by Aiguo Dai of the State University of New York, Albany, who reported last year that using the Penman-Monteith equation “only slightly reduces the drying trend”.  [ NewScientist]

There are other scientists who are not convinced either:

The finding comes in stark opposition to the results of several recent studies. “It presented a somewhat different view of the drying trend for the last 60 years,” says Aiguo Dai, an atmospheric scientist at the State University of New York at Albany, whose own research suggests that the two equations yield very little difference in drought estimates. Dai says the new study fails to consider trends in soil moisture and other variables. He also claims that the new study relies on outdated weather records and questionable radiation data. However, Sheffield and colleagues attribute the disagreement to inconsistencies in the weather data used by Dai and others.[ScienceNews,]

But if it’s right, the new results may have wider implications:

Sheffield’s findings raise important questions, says Steve Running at the University of Montana in Missoula. “If global drought is not increasing, if warmer temperatures are accompanied by more rainfall and lower evaporation rates, then a warmer wetter world would [mean] a more benign climate.” [ NewScientist]

Actually Fred Pearce at NewScientist has done a respectable job of canvassing opinions from all sides. It’s good to see.

If the paper stands up to scrutiny lets hope the information reaches a wider crowd. If they are right there is 20 years of propaganda to undo.

Little change in global drought over the past 60 years
Justin Sheffield1, Eric F.Wood1 & Michael L. Roderick2


Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming1–3. Previous assessments of historic changes in drought over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicate that this may already be happening globally. In particular, calculations of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) show a decrease in moisture globally since the 1970s with a commensurate increase in the area in drought that is attributed, in part, to global warming4,5. The simplicity of the PDSI, which is calculated from a simple water-balance model forced by monthly precipitation and temperature data, makes it an attractive tool in large-scale drought assessments, but may give biased results in the context of climate change6. Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation7 that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles8 that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years. The results have implications for how we interpret the impact of global warming on the hydrological cycle and its extremes, and may help to explain why palaeoclimate drought reconstructions based on tree-ring data diverge from the PDSI based drought record in recent years9,10.


Sheffield, Wood & Roderick (2012) Little change in global drought over the past 60 years, Letter Nature, vol 491, 437

H/t John Coochey, Willie Soon.

Nature paper: Global droughts unchanged in 60 years « JoNova: Science, carbon, climate and tax.

Maize Exports from Black Sea Region to China

Yet another maize market captured by Georgia’s regional rival….


Ukraine may start its first shipments of maize to China by the end of this year under an agreement which will allow the former Soviet republic pay back a $3 billion loan to the Asian giant. Ukrainian Agricultural Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said on Monday that the way was clear for shipments to start after the two sides reached agreement on sanitary and other quality requirements for supplies of the commodity.

“Shipments of Ukrainian maize will be made in accordance with inter-government agreements and by private companies as well,” Prysyazhnyuk was quoted as saying by his ministry. The outline agreement should enable Ukraine to pay off $3 billion worth of credit extended by China this summer, he said. A list of Ukrainian exporting companies would be sent to China in the near future.

Analysts say Ukraine, a major wheat producer which is also the world’s fourth-biggest maize exporter, may in future…

View original post 70 more words

Guest Lecture at ISET Tonight

Our General Director, Dr Simon Appleby, will deliver a guest seminar

“A SWOT Analysis of the Georgian Agribusiness Sector; a Foreign Investor’s Perspective”

to the ISET Community on November 12. Call Mari Chelidze for details.

Time: 5 p.m.

Place: ISET,

16, Zandukeli St.
Tbilisi 0108, Georgia.

Telephone: (995 32) 250 71 77

View map

Supply and Demand Forecasts for Maize and Rice

An interesting article. I think the Professor underestimates the increase in demand for rice from Africa, which has a much faster-growing population than Asia. He is correct about demand increasing for maize and soy though; as people become richer, they demand more egg, pork, and chicken (and to an extent dairy and beef) which require these grains.

Rice bowl overflow - National Rural News - Grains and Cropping - General - Queensland Country Life

CONTRARY to prevailing fears about global food security, our ballooning world population is unlikely to be running short of the popular food staples rice and wheat in the near future.

In fact, given the rate at which rice production efficiency is likely to lift in the next decade, and changing dietary preferences in the developing world, Asia may even see periodic rice gluts.

Although many Asian countries are striving to achieve rice self sufficiency to safeguard against a repeat of the 2008-09 price shock which sparked food riots as rice hit $650 a tonne, the crop in most demand will be corn.

According to CropLife Asia, maize demand in the fast developing region is set to jump by almost 90pc in the next eight years to more than 300 million tonnes.

Projections by the International Food Policy Research Institute expect acute global demand for maize to exceed demand for wheat and rice by 2020 as it becomes increasingly important in human and animal diets.

The corn revolution reflects the value of stockfeed crops as meat consumption rises and a tempering in the world’s reliance on long grain rice, according to food security specialist Professor Paul Teng.

“There will always be shortfalls when monsoons fail or droughts occur, but widespread self sufficiency among Asian nations could potentially result in a rice surplus.”

About 3 billion people – nearly half the world’s population – currently depend on rice for survival.

Across Asia much of the population eats long grain rice at every meal, with the crop accounting for more than 70 per cent of human caloric intake in countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh.

But Cambodia is on track to become an exporter by the end of the decade and Myanmar is also tipped to become a major rice producer.

With a long tradition of rice production in its Ayerwaddy Delta, Myanmar could potentially return to become a one the world’s key exporters as it opens its economy to the world and gains access to modern agronomy inputs.

Vietnam and Thailand are already big rice exporters, each trading up to seven times more rice than is grown in Australia, while the Philippines and Indonesia are aiming be self sufficient within three years.

“As biotechnology (genetic modification) and better irrigation and fertiliser practises are adopted yields will improve dramatically in the next 10 years,” said Professor Teng, a New Zealand trained agricultural scientist from the Centre for Non-traditional Security Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

“Even by adopting correct fertiliser application strategies farmers in the Philippines could double current yields.

“India already exports rice, wheat and other grains and with advances in agronomy will become more productive as a grain producer – including corn.

Professor Teng said rising living standards would also see demand for rice subside in Asia as other food choices became affordable and available to more consumers.

“Reduced pressure on rice markets will also have a flow-on effect, easing some demand pressure on other traditional grain markets, diverting more interest towards growing and trading feed crops such as corn.”

With surplus rice likely to be readily available, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has even suggested the Philippines’ drive for self sufficiency by next year is “imprudent”, and imports would be a cheaper investment.

The ADB claimed South East Asian countries would benefit more if they enhanced rice-trade co-operation.

Exporters could strike a deal with rice importers to guarantee allocations, avoiding the need for importers to spend heavily on investments for rice self-sufficiency and giving exporters more market access opportunities.

However the Philippines government has argued world demand is still rising and it was more concerned about improving the welfare of its farmers than serving foreign traders’ interests.

via Rice bowl overflow – National Rural News – Grains and Cropping – General – Queensland Country Life.

Japan to Lift Corn Reserves as Imports Rise From Ukraine

This is an interesting development. While Georgia does not have the massive land resources of Ukraine, it has better water resources and huge potential for increased productivity. With domestic demand for maize now met by domestic production, and with some small scale exports to Turkey, we see potential for per hectare yields to increase by 400% as irrigation, genetics and crop care improves. Area under maize could increase dramatically over time as fallow land is brought back into production. Georgian commodity traders should start developing market links with Japan now, to prepare for the time when shiploads may feasibly and profitably be sent there.

Japan to Lift Corn Reserves as Imports Rise From Ukraine - Bloomberg

Japan, the world’s largest corn importer, is set to spend $20 million to help feed mills boost stockpiles and safeguard food security as the nation shifts purchases from the U.S. to Ukraine and Brazil.

Feed makers will probably expand inventories to 750,000 metric tons in the 12 months starting April 1, or about 7 percent of consumption, from 450,000 tons this year, said Ryosuke Hirooka, deputy director for the feed division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The government may spend 1.62 billion yen to meet part of the cost, he said in an interview in Tokyo.

Japan purchased a record amount of corn from Brazil and Ukraine this year, cutting U.S. supplies to the lowest level in at least two decades, as drought sent Chicago futures to a record. Shipments from South America and Europe were delayed, forcing feed mills to draw on stockpiles, Hirooka said.

“Diversification of supply raises the risk of instability in shipments” because transport facilities in some emerging markets are not as good as the U.S., said Tetsuhide Mikamo, director at Marubeni Research Institute. “Holding higher stockpiles is one option for managing the risk.”

An increase in inventories may curb the decline in corn imports, which have slumped to a 26-year low as feed mills use more wheat. The U.S. was the top corn exporter in the 2011-2012 marketing year, followed by Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

Brazil, Ukraine

The U.S. supplied 5.1 million tons of feed corn to Japan in the first eight months, or 78 percent of imports, according to the agriculture ministry. Ukraine shipped a record 822,226 tons, or 13 percent. The U.S. provided virtually all the country’s requirements in 2008.

Japan continues to boost purchases of cheaper corn from South America and the Black Sea, eroding U.S. market share, said Nobuyuki Chino, president at Continental Rice Corp. The U.S. is set to supply 1.5 million tons or 56 percent of imports in the first quarter of 2013, said Chino, who has traded grains for more than three decades. Brazil will provide 800,000 tons and Argentina 150,000 tons, while Ukraine and others ship the rest.

The cost of importing Brazilian corn, including freight, is about $35 per ton cheaper than the U.S. variety, Chino said. Argentine corn is offered $30 below U.S. grain, while Ukrainian shipments are $15 less expensive, he said.

Japan’s corn imports for feed, food and industrial use may drop almost 3 percent this year from 15.3 million tons in 2011 to the lowest since 1986, said Chino. Feed makers are also using dried distillers’ grains with solubles instead of corn.

Futures in Chicago climbed to a record $8.49 a bushel on Aug. 10 and traded at $7.39 at 5:45 p.m. Singapore time today.

via Japan to Lift Corn Reserves as Imports Rise From Ukraine – Bloomberg.