Ukraine increases grain exports to the relief of food insecure countries

UKRAINE — Countries that have historically relied on Ukraine grains to meet their food security needs such as Egypt, Bangladesh, and Iran are finally having a sigh of relief as the country gradually increases its exports.

According to a Reuters report, Ukraine grain shipments continue to trend higher with September figures falling short of 2021 levels by only 2.4%.

Citing Ukraine Agricultural Ministry data, Reuters reported that Ukraine has exported 2.12 million tonnes of grain, mostly corn and wheat so far this month, compared to 2.17 million during the same period last year, according to the report.

Ukraine still lags far behind in grain exports year-on-year, having shipped 10.8 million tonnes in 2022-23, compared to 16.5 million tonnes through Oct. 17 of 2021-22, according to Reuters.

Ukraine was unable to export any grain from its Black Sea ports for five months after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.

Countries that were most affected by these blockades were Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Iran which buy 60% of their wheat from Ukraine.

Also, heavily reliant on those two countries’ wheat exports are Lebanon, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Pakistan.

Ukraine has exported 2.12 million tonnes of grain, mostly corn and wheat so far this month, compared to 2.17 million during the same period last year.

Late July brought good tidings to these nations as Russia reached an agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, to withdraw its naval blockade from the Ukrainian ports.

Since then, grain shipments from those ports have steadily increased, sending much-needed grain to countries that traditionally have been dependent on imports from Ukraine.

With the war between Russia and Ukraine still ongoing, Russia recently indicated it may not be willing to extend the deal, which is set to expire in late November, due to concerns that efforts have not been made to facilitate Russia’s fertilizer and grain exports.

Bulgaria sees decline in grains output

A change in tact by Russia may again upset world commodity markets with countries like Bulgaria having limited places to source grains to meet their local demand particularly now when production is expected to fall.

According to Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), production in Bulgaria’s key grains is expected to decline in 2022-23 due to summer drought and pest infestations.

The USDA forecasts this year’s corn crop at 2.8 million tonnes, 18% lower than the 2021-22 harvest adding that the winter grain harvest will only slightly better with 6.3 million tonnes of wheat and 640,000 tonnes of barley, down 13% and 10%, respectively, year on year.

As for the 2023-24 harvest, Bulgarian farmers are expressing concern about the increasing costs of inputs, which may negatively impact yields in next year’s crops.

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