Viterra, Bunge Ukraine grain terminals damaged in Russian attacks

UKRAINE—Canadian agribusiness Viterra and U.S. grain trader Bunge Ltd have reported their grain and sunflower oil terminals in Mikolayiv, one of Ukraine’s most important agricultural ports, had been damaged in Russian missile attacks as Russia’s war with Ukraine encompasses key commercial assets.

The Journal writers explained that, “Viterra said its terminal was on fire. The company, which is part-owned by commodities giant Glencore PLC, said there had been no casualties though one employee is being treated for burns.

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Bunge said there had been no casualties at its plant, which has been closed since Russia’s invasion began.

The Mikolayiv port, which the second biggest among Ukrainian ports in terms of grain and oilseeds exports, has been closed since the end of February when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

Prior to the invasion, the port accounted for around 28% of all grains, oilseeds and meals exported from July 1 to February 22.

The resulting loss of corn, wheat and sunflower oil to the global market has prompted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to accuse Russia of “weaponizing food.”

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In total, Russia’s invasion has left about 18 million metric tons of grain stranded in Ukraine, heightening fears of a global food crisis and driving up the cost of food worldwide.

Reuters, citing data from the agriculture ministry, has reported that, Ukrainian grain exports in the first 22 days of June fell by 48% from a year earlier to 907,000 tonnes.

The volumes included 803,000 tonnes of corn, 78,000 tonnes of wheat and 21,000 tonnes of barley.

The issue is compounding for Ukrainian farmers, whose fields and equipment have been targeted and are running out of storage space as the harvest season is underway.

The grain terminal attacks come even as delegations from Turkey and Russia said they held a “positive” meeting in Moscow on the exit of grain-laden ships from Ukraine.

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Western leaders have lined up in recent weeks to offer solutions to the situation. President Joe Biden said the U.S. is working with Europe to build temporary silos on Poland’s border with Ukraine to facilitate the export of grain out of the country.

There have been several plans floated to get Ukrainian grain moving again. But a solution won’t solve the problem overnight.

Analysts from Dutch multinational banking and financial services company, Rabobank posit that even if an agreement were reached today, safe passage could take months to complete.

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