Ukraine grain is looking for a way out

Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

Ukraine considers switching grain export to the railroad, as seaports remained blocked, sparking fears over stability of supply on the global market.

Ukraine is looking at establishing grain export route by train through the Western border, Ukraine Agricultural and Food Minister Roman Leshenko, said in a statement. Currently, the Ukrainian government is discussing the abolishment of import duties on Ukraine grain with neighbouring countries, so it could be delivered via Moldova to Romania – to the Black Sea ports not affected by the Russian military invasion, he added.

Ceasefire is needed

However, as much as 20% to 25% of the Ukrainian grain has already been lost, Leshenko said, referring to this year’s spring sowing campaign, which is delayed primarily at the territory invaded by Russian troops. Bigger problems could be avoided if a ceasefire agreement is signed shortly, and farmers are provided with a sufficient amount of fuel and fertilisers, Leshenko added.

Exports suspended

On March 9, Ukraine banned exports of grain and other food products to prevent a domestic humanitarian crisis. Even if the existing supply chain disruptions are resolved soon, the problems would most likely persist because farmers are fleeing the fighting and the conflict is destroying infrastructure and equipment, Human Right Watch said in a statement.

One seaport

“We need to open at least one port, so we could export around 5 million tonnes of grain per month. In case, there’ll be losses [of grain for the world market], but they won’t be critical,” Leshenko said.

Ukraine has historically exported its grain, vegetable oils, and other food products by ship. The country accounts for 11% of the global wheat export, and 55% of sunflower oil export.

“Global food chains demand global solidarity in times of crisis,” said Lama Fakih, the executive Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Without concerted action to address the supply and affordability of food, the conflict in Ukraine risks deepening the world’s food crisis, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Railway infrastructure is ready

The Ukraine state-owned railway operator also supported the idea of exporting grain by train, saying that this would, not only save the business, but will also prevent the global food crisis. Several international organisations have recently voiced concerns that the Ukraine war could cause famine in some regions of the world.

Ukrainian Railways said that it might deliver grain to borders with Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, from where the grain can be delivered to ports and logistics hubs of European countries. Ukraine Railways said it could deliver 150 grain carriages per day to Romania, 45 to Poland, 17 to Hungary, and 60 to Slovakia, with up to 70 tonnes of grain loaded on each carriage.

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