Amid war, nearly 25 mln tonnes of grain stuck in Ukraine

A U.N. food agency official said on Friday that about 25 million tonnes of grains are stranded in Ukraine and unable to leave owing to infrastructural problems and closed Black Sea ports, including Mariupol.

According to the FAO, the obstructions are a role in rising food prices, which reached a record high in March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before easing marginally in April.

According to figures from the International Grains Council, Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest exporter of maize (corn) and the sixth largest exporter of wheat in the 2020/21 season.

“It’s an almost grotesque situation we’re seeing right now in Ukraine with nearly 25 million tonnes of grain that could be exported but can’t because of a lack of infrastructure, a port blockade,” Josef Schmidhuber, FAO Deputy Director, Markets and Trade Division, told a Geneva press briefing via Zoom.

According to Schmidhuber, the full silos may cause storage problems for the upcoming harvest in July and August.

“Despite the fighting, the harvest appears to be in good shape. That might indicate a lack of storage space in Ukraine, especially if no wheat route opens up for export from the country “he stated

Another source of concern, he continued, is indications that some grain storage facilities in Ukraine have been damaged as a result of the war.

Ukraine has been obliged to export grain by rail over its western border or from its minor Danube river ports since Moscow initiated what it terms a “special military operation” in late February.

The head of the World Trade Organization told the media earlier this week that she is “seriously concerned” about rising food prices and is working with other partners to find solutions.

“If we could get this grain out of Ukraine, it would greatly assist the globe,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala remarked. “There’s a big risk that food costs may rise and spiral out of reach, resulting in increased famine.”

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