North Dakota exporters have had the opportunity to work with some of the largest farmers in the world. Many of these international farmers see North Dakota as ‘one-stop-shopping’ for all of their agriculture needs, from equipment, to seed, to storage, to education and beyond. One such example is Alex Oronov, founder and president of Grain Alliance, a 50,000 hectare operation in Ukraine who has purchased over $5 M in North Dakota products since 2009. When asked why he always returns to ND, Oronov’s CFO, Eugene Radovenyuk, said:
“It is our style of business; working in agriculture, we are always long-term oriented. When we were initially satisfied with quality of (North Dakota) products purchased, we continued development of trustworthy relations with the same business partners. Thus, we are going to continue this process.”
The Bread Basket of Europe
One of the goals of Grain Alliance is to restore Ukraine as the ‘bread basket of Europe’. Much like North Dakota, Ukraine has some of the world’s richest soil for farming. Unfortunately, during the 70 years of Soviet rule, agriculture was not a priority. To this day, Ukrainian farmers have limited resources and mostly dated equipment, second rate seeding materials and less fertilizer compared to western farmers. Oronov sees western technology as vital to increasing yields and improving the overall state of agriculture in Ukraine. Similarities between the region and North Dakota, coupled with North Dakota’s agriculture expertise, is the basis for the strong partnership.
“First of all, we have similar climate conditions. This means that ND hybrids and sorts of seeds are workable for our region. Secondly, we are similar in size of fields. These two factors allow for using similar agri-technology,” said Radovenyuk. “Besides machinery and goods, North Dakota has also strong educational and scientific facility, which may help to transfer agricultural best practice to Ukraine.”
One-Stop-Shopping in North Dakota
Since being introduced to companies in 2009 by the North Dakota Trade Office, Grain Alliance has purchased a variety of products from North Dakota including used equipment such as tractors, combines, seeders, planters and cultivators, new spray equipment and soybean seeds. Dean Gorder, executive director of NDTO, says one-stop-shopping in North Dakota is common for a number of international, large-scale farm owners.
“Our region is home to all of the best products required for successful, modern agriculture,” said Gorder. “It is convenient for international buyers to fulfill all their machinery, seed, storage and education needs within one state. And when one seller doesn’t have a product, they usually recommend another North Dakota company. It’s a win-win for our state.”
Stacy Anthony of Brandt Holdings, one of Grain Alliance’s partners, says keeping a strong business relationship with international buyers is dependent on a trust.
“Alex Oronov has a large vision; he knows what he wants to do. He has become not only a good customer but truly a good friend,” said Anthony. “There is a character alignment, and that’s how business is done from a long ways away. When you start off with that trust, there is no reason to look elsewhere.”
For more information about this story, contact Brittany Posey at Brittany@ndto.com.