KIEV, March 11 (Reuters) - Most of the spring grain area in Crimea is unlikely to be sown this year due to a lack of fuel caused by turmoil in the region, Ukraine’s agriculture minister Ihor Shvaika said.
“According to our preliminary forecast, the major part of the area (in Crimea) will remain unsown,” Shvaika told reporters on Tuesday.
Grain output in Ukraine’s Crimea region totalled 765,000 tonnes in 2013, or 1.2 percent of Ukraine’s overall harvest. The government had said the harvest could reach 1.2 million tonnes of grain in 2014.
Shvaika said that military conflict in Crimea, taken over by Russian armed forces, “made impossible” the supply of fuel to regions that had already started major field work.
He said Ukrainian farms had already sown a total of 106,000 hectares of early grains or 4 percent of the initial area.
Ukraine plans to sow a total of 8.6 million hectares of spring grain this year, including 2.9 million hectares of early grains - spring wheat and spring barley.
Analysts say Ukraine is likely to harvest up to 60 million tonnes of grain this year. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Anthony Barker)