Ukraine grain exports capped at two million tons a month if ports remain blocked

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Ukraine will only be able to export a maximum of two million tons of grains a month if Russia refuses to lift its blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports, Taras Vysotskyi, Ukraine’s first deputy minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, said on Tuesday.

Ukraine is trying to export its vast stores of grain by road, river and rail at present to help to avert a global food crisis, but these routes face severe capacity constraints.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the country was able to export up to six million tons of grains a month. Since the grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports stopped, more than 20 million tons of grain are stuck in the country’s silos.

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“I think we reached the limit. The biggest amount we can export is about two million tons a month,” Vysotskyi, speaking via video link, told participants at an International Grains Council (IGC) conference in London.

He said even if Russia’s port blockade is lifted, Ukraine would need about six months to demine the waters around its Black Sea ports, meaning the world would remain short of grains for some time.

Ukraine is the world’s fourth largest grains exporter.

Global wheat prices hit record highs in March and the surge in food prices has triggered protests across developing countries, as well as contributing to an acceleration in headline inflation rates throughout the world.

The United Nations is trying to broker a deal to get Ukraine’s grain shipped from its Black Sea ports such as Odesa.

Russia has said it wants Western sanctions lifted as part of the deal and has also accused Ukraine of mining its own waters.

Ukraine’s grain, oilseed and vegetable oil exports rose 80 percent in May month on month to 1.743 million tons but the volumes are still significantly below the exports in May 2021, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

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