April 2014, Wheatlife
by Scott Yates
A dozen years ago when Russia and other “Black Sea” countries began selling large quantities of wheat into the Egyptian market, there was much hand-wringing across U.S. farm country. After all, Egypt was and remains the world’s largest wheat importer, taking about 10 million metric tons of the grain a year.
Much of that trade has included millions of tons of soft white wheat which has made the 8,000-mile journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Port of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea. Additional millions of tons of U.S. hard and soft red wheat have traveled 6,500 miles from Gulf of Mexico ports over the years.
Although it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the phrase “Black Sea States” came into common usage to describe Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan as potential agricultural powerhouses, the spark was lit in 1991 when the Soviet Union broke up, and a Wild West version of capitalism took hold in the region. Homegrown entrepreneurs, investment from Europe, the capital to buy modern equipment, deep and fertile soil all combined to turbocharge the region’s farming sector. Read more here.