UKRAINE – Faced with a hostile neighbor on its eastern border, Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain producers, is turning westwards to Poland in search of an export route for its vast reserves of grain.

According to a Reuters report citing Poland’s infrastructure minister, Fifty percent more Ukrainian grain is moving via Poland monthly compared to the middle of the year.

About 450,000 tonnes per month have been transported via Poland. Compared to October of last year, the increase in grain transport is over 16 times, the minister said.

Exports from Ukraine came to a halt in February after Russia’s invasion and blockade, triggering a price rally in major commodities such as wheat, maize, and sunflower.

To bring stability to the world commodity markets, three Ukrainian Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

With the deal in place, exports almost returned to pre-war levels in the first few weeks of October, according to agriculture ministry data.

The war-torn country, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, exported 2.13m tonnes of grain in the days up to 17 October, compared to 2.18m in the same period in 2021.

The grain exports were mostly made up of corn and wheat, with 0.96m tonnes of wheat, 1m tonnes of corn and 122,000 tonnes of barley.

Although the deal was extended for 120 days in the middle of November, Ukraine has been looking for alternative routes for its grains away from the highly volatile black sea route.

Poland and Romania are the two main routes established by Ukraine in close collaboration with its European allies to help with grain exports.

Poland handles most of the grain out of Ukraine as the Romania route involves transport by rail to ports on the Danube river and loading cargoes onto barges for sailing towards the port of Constanta, a complex and costly process.

Russia to produce record wheat in 2023
As Ukraine ramps up its export, its neighbor Russia is also gearing up for a bumper wheat harvest in the market year 2022-23.

According to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Russia is forecast to harvest a record wheat crop of more than 90 million tonnes in 2022-23, shattering the previous mark of 85 million tonnes set in 2020-21.

The country is also forecast to export record wheat volumes in the coming year. According to a Reuters report, The deputy head of United Grain Company, the state-controlled trader, said Russia is expected to export between 53 million and 54 million tonnes in the 2023-marketing year.

Russia’s agriculture ministry in September projected grain of exports between 50 million and 60 million tonnes this year.

The USDA also anticipates that Russia will set a record in wheat exports at 42 million tonnes, topping the previous record of 41.4 million tonnes set in 2017-18.

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