Volume expected to be significantly below pre-crisis levels
The EU hopes for an increase in the volume of grain exports from Ukraine in June, EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said earlier this week during a meeting with EU agriculture ministers in Brussels.
“We hope we can reach 3-4 million [tons of grain exported] starting next month, using all the means at our disposal. But we must not forget that Ukraine is transporting its agricultural products by land for the first time and, unfortunately, the volumes we can transport are smaller and cannot be compared with those transported by sea,“said the official quoted by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
Before the conflict, Ukraine’s exports to the EU amounted to around 5 million tonnes per month, Valean said. Volumes used to be shipped through Black Sea ports, but now due to the conflict these ports have been blocked and shipments”must be redirected to railways, roads and inland waterways and then to EU ports for further exports to world marketsValean explained.
According to Reuters, Ukraine’s grain exports fell significantly after the launch of the Russian military operation in late February, amounting to just 1 million tonnes in April and 1.5 million tonnes in May.
However, despite the current transport difficulties, Valean underlined the fact that “in less than 3 months, 20 to 25 million tons of grain must leave Ukrainebecause an additional 50 million tonnes should be harvested and local storage can only accommodate 50% of this quantity.
“The release of storage capacities is the immediate priority in Ukraine but also in the EU“, noted the official.
Prices for wheat and other grains have reached record highs over the past two months. This has been exacerbated as major producers Russia, Kazakhstan and India have cut exports to protect their domestic markets, while supplies from Ukraine remain in limbo due to the ongoing dispute. . Analysts anticipate global food insecurity due to soaring prices, while UN officials have warned of outright starvation in poorer countries.
Western nations have repeatedly blamed Russia for grain shortages, accusing the country of being responsible for the blockade of Black Sea ports. Moscow, however, denied the charges, saying Ukrainian water mines prevented grain-laden ships from leaving.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday that the previously blocked port of Mariupol began operating after Russian forces took control of it earlier this month and cleared the waterway, allowing ships to leave. Separately, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Friday that it had opened two humanitarian corridors for the passage of ships to the Black and Azov Seas from the ports of Kherson, Nikolaev, Chornomorsk, Ochakov, Odessa and Yuzhny.
For more stories on economics and finance, visit RT’s business section