Czech farmers are facing an oversupply of wheat due to the influx of cheap Ukrainian wheat. According to a survey by the Czech Agricultural Union, a surplus of 2.6 million tons of wheat is stored in Czech silos, which is 40% higher than last year. The Union warns that the quality of the imported wheat is low, and the increased storage levels may threaten Czech farmers’ ability to sell their higher-quality wheat, which is grown according to European Union standards.
The Union’s chairman, Martin Pýcha, said that the European market is already saturated with Ukrainian wheat, and Czech farmers may have to burn their crops. Pýcha also expressed concern that Czech consumers may have to buy lower-quality flour and bread made from Ukrainian wheat. While Czech farmers export a significant portion of their wheat, the low-quality Ukrainian wheat imports could damage their sales.
The Czech Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that the country will continue to import wheat from Ukraine. According to the Ministry, almost 4,000 tons of wheat were imported to the Czech Republic out of 3.526 million tons imported to the European Union until January 2023. A Ministry spokesperson stated that this amount is negligible compared to the country’s overall domestic production of approximately 4.8 million tons. However, the Czech Agricultural Union asserts that Czech farmers still have an excess of 1.6 million tons of wheat in their silos.
While the Czech Republic continues to import wheat from Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary have already banned wheat imports and other commodities from Ukraine. These countries’ farmers have also complained about the influx of cheap Ukrainian wheat, threatening their livelihoods.
In June 2022, the European Union imposed import duties on Ukrainian agricultural and food products, suspending them for a year. The EU also initiated the so-called “solidarity routes,” which aimed to facilitate wheat export mainly to non-EU countries, such as North Africa.
Czech farmers are facing an oversupply of low-quality wheat, mainly due to the influx of cheap Ukrainian wheat. While the Czech Ministry of Agriculture intends to continue imports from Ukraine, Czech farmers fear this may lead to reduced sales of their higher-quality wheat.
The wheat oversupply further complicates the situation, which Czech farmers may have to burn if they cannot find buyers. Meanwhile, the EU has suspended imports of Ukrainian wheat, and several neighboring countries have banned them due to the threat to their farmers’ livelihoods.