Executive Summary of ideas for developing the Ukrainian Feed Industry
This paper is an executive summary of a five page letter on the wide-ranging benefits of improving the quality of livestock feed produced and fed in Ukraine.
How can the Ukrainian Livestock Industry expect to become globally competitive unless the rations that they feed their animals meet the world standards of the feed fed by their competitors?
Quality feed availability is a major and fatal missing link in the food production chain of Ukraine resulting in unprofitable livestock production, poorer quality and less availability of animal products for Ukrainian processors and consumers and decreased demand for Ukrainian produced grain and oil meals - soybean and canola. Everyone is a loser except the importers of foreign food because of this obvious "gap" in the Ukrainian food chain.
It behooves Ukraine to build an interface (a feed industry) between (1) the grain, oil meal producers and other suppliers of feed ingredients to increase the demand for their products and (2) the feeders of animals who need high quality rations to support optimum and economically efficient performance. Developing a strong livestock feed industry in Ukraine that supplies quality feed with the emphasis on superior animal performance is of national and international importance. It is therefore realistic to expect that (1) Western interests supportive of the market transition of Ukraine along with (2) private sector enterprises that will benefit from a strong animal agriculture to be supportive of working cooperatively to solve this need for quality livestock feeds.
Knowledge is readily available on how to formulate high performance livestock rations. Professionals should (1) work with the feed manufacturers and their suppliers to improve the formulation and production of feed for specific livestock functions, (2) encourage the feeding of quality rations by livestock producers, (3) improve animal husbandry practices and (4) encourage agribusiness management decision-making that focuses on profit. By applying the agribusiness management concepts that USAID funded professionals are already teaching throughout Ukraine, these profit maximizing objectives can be accomplished.
USAID is already funding the contact organizations needed to reach the Ukrainian feed ingredient supplier, the feed producer and the livestock industry via their various Farmer to Farmer programs, USDA's Commercial Agriculture Development Program, regionally in Western Ukraine by the Western Ukraine Initiative, etc. What is needed is someone to focus specifically on improved feed formulation and delivery to informed and receptive livestock producers. This should be a full-time position.
A USAID and private investor partnership program to improve the livestock feeding industry in Ukraine could be broken into several component parts so that a "systems approach" was emphasized, including (1) feed control officials, (2) feed ingredient suppliers, (3) feed manufacturers, (4) livestock feeders, (5) processors of animal products into meat and dairy products and the (6) consuming public. (See the original article for a discussion of how these various groups could contribute to increasing livestock productivity in Ukraine.)
There could be a big benefit to the Ukrainian animal industry if the feed manufacturers of Ukraine formed and participated in an oblast and/or national feed manufacturers association. USAID has encouraged the formation of private farmer cooperatives so it would be consistent with the West's objectives to encourage the forming of a feed manufacturers association. Teaching animal nutrition and good feed mill manufacturing principles along with being a network for finding supplies would be obvious benefits. Suppliers could focus on reaching the individual feed manufacturers via trade shows rather than having to travel to each local feed manufacturer.
Producing quality feeds takes care of the supply function but there must be demand for high quality feeds if they are to be fed. A Western animal nutrition professional could help sell the livestock industry on the benefits of feeding quality feed. This could be done via local meetings with livestock producers and by conducting feed performance trials complete with cost data that would demonstrate that "good feeds cost less". Income and costs should be carefully recorded. The concept of feeding for a profit rather than for the lowest feed cost should be emphasized.
Many of the Western funded projects to help Ukraine have taught general concepts with the Ukrainian recipients of the training expected to apply what they've learned to specific projects of their choice. The proposed animal feed approach would be a specific application that would reach out for information from a number of other disciplines to achieve the desired results. More excitement can be generated when a specific rather than a general objective is targeted. Working with private family farmers either as individuals or as members of agricultural cooperatives (which USAID funded contractors are helping to create) will be easier and more productive if there is a definite vision as to what is trying to be accomplished.
It is possible to help Ukraine become globally competitive in their livestock industries but not until their animals receive high quality rations that will support world-class animal performance. By making the Ukrainian livestock industry globally competitive the producers of high protein oil meals (canola and soybean) and grain also will be benefited via increased demand for their products. Providing animal nutrition technology support to feed mills and livestock producers would improve a vital component of the infrastructure of the Ukrainian food production chain and remove a bottleneck that is keeping Ukraine from creating wealth and becoming globally competitive in animal agriculture production.
Funding a program to improve the quality of livestock feed produced in Ukraine would be consistent with USAID's efforts to promote private family farmers and private agribusiness development, helping to make them both self-sufficient.
Roy Chapin, Ph.D., Animal Nutritionist
11145 Chapin Lane, Amity, Oregon 97101