Ukraine’s Grain Export Woes Disrupt Storage, Harvest, Planting

Ukraine’s Grain Export Woes Disrupt Storage, Harvest, Planting

Ukraine lacks storage capacity even for its reduced 2022 grain harvest according to the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). The country’s grain exports from existing stocks have almost come to a halt because of the Russian invasion.

The WFP estimates that 20% of planted areas in Ukraine will not be harvested in July and that the spring planting area will be one third smaller.

Ukraine is the world’s fifth biggest wheat exporter and top three for maize, barley and sunflower seeds. Wheat production in 2021 was 40 million tonnes and 50 million tonnes for the other three.

The country’s challenge this year will be to sell existing stocks to provide storage capacity for 2022 harvest, and earn cash to buy seeds and fertilizers for the next planting season.

Before the war, Ukraine used to export almost all its grains and oilseeds, a total volume of up to 6 million tonnes per month. But Black Sea ports that had seen the majority of exports are now blocked by the war.

The country’s agriculture ministry worries that an estimated 15 million tonnes of 2022 grain harvest will not have space in the storage sites unless Ukraine exports its current stock.

If Ukraine cannot export its current stocks, farmers may not be able afford harvesting costs, let alone plant the next year’s crop.

The lack of Ukrainian grain on world markets has been pushing up food prices around the world. The WFP’s monthly spending is $70 million more to buy the same amount of food as last year.

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