Reuters editor Natalia Zinets reported yesterday that “the new Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture Mykola Solskyi said on Saturday that Ukraine’s ability to export grain was deteriorating day by day and would only improve if the war with Russia ended.
“Speaking at a televised briefing, Solskyi said that Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain producers, normally export 4 to 5 million tons of grain per month – a volume fallen to just a few hundred thousand tons.
“The impact (on global markets) is direct, dramatic and significant. And it continues. Every day the situation will become more and more difficult,” he said.
And today Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported that “Traders exported the first deliveries of Ukrainian corn to Europe by train that the country’s seaports get stuck due to the Russian invasion, agricultural consultancy APK-Inform said on Sunday.
“Ukraine is a major global grain producer and exporter and almost all of its exports have traditionally been shipped from its Black Sea ports. Monthly grain exports exceeded 5 million tons before the war.”
“Traders and agriculture officials said that Ukraine, which still has large volumes of cereals in stock, may begin exporting by rail through its western border,” the Reuters article states; adding that “Ukrainian transport authorities have said as much as 600,000 tonnes of grain per month could be exported by trains from Ukraine to Europe.”
And Bloomberg writer Abdel Latif Wahba reported on Saturday that “Kazakhstan seeks to establish a logistics center in a Egyptian Red Sea port who would help him ship his grain and other foodstuffs to Africasaid the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture.
Also on Saturday, Financial Times writer Alan Beattie reported that “governments are risk repeating mistakes during previous food crises by impose export controls amid soaring commodity and energy prices, the head of the World Trade Organization [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala] said.”
The FT article stated that “‘I hope we have learned something’ from the previous global food crisis in 2007-2008Okonjo-Iweala said, referring to a time when problems were caused by droughts in the main wheat and rice producing countries, as well as a ascend in the cost of energy. ‘The signs we see now don’t just show much learningbecause we have the same situation from soaring food prices, soaring energy prices and an emerging spiral.
“‘We should try not to make the problems worse by imposing export restrictions set up who can encourage others to impose their own export restrictions,’ she says. Governments with excess stocks of products such as vegetable oils and grains should release them on world markets, she said, although she declined to name specific countries.
“Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister and managing director of the World Bank, said only about 12 WTO member countries had so far imposed export restrictions to keep food at home, which they are allowed to do under a loophole in WTO rules.
And the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently released an updated briefing on the food security impacts of the war in Ukraine.
In part, the FAO report stated that “The Russian Federation and Ukraine are among the largest producers of agricultural raw materials in the world. Both countries are net exporters of agricultural products and both play a leading role in supplying global food and fertilizer markets, where exportable supplies are often concentrated in a handful of countries. This concentration could expose these markets to increased vulnerability to shocks and volatility.
In 2021, the Russian Federation or Ukraine (or both) ranked among the world’s top three exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, while the Russian Federation was also the world’s largest exporter of nitrogen fertilizers, the second largest supplier of potassium fertilizers and the third largest exporter of phosphorus fertilizers.
The FAO report noted that “current indications are that, as a result of the conflict, between 20 and 30 percent of the area sown to winter crops in Ukraine will remain unharvested in the 2022/23 season, with yields of these crops also likely to be negatively affected. Furthermore, considerable uncertainty surrounds the ability of Ukrainian farmers to plant crops during the fast approaching spring harvest cycle.
“In order to prevent or limit the adverse effects of the conflict on the food and agricultural sectors of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, every effort should be made to keep international food and fertilizer trade open to meet domestic and global demand. Supply chains must remain fully operational, including protecting standing crops, livestock, food processing infrastructure and all logistics systems,” the FAO report says.