Ukraine sees big increase in agriculture exports in July

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FILE PHOTO: Sunflowers are seen in a field in Chernihiv region

KYIV – Ukraine’s grain, oilseed, vegetable oil exports rose 22.7% in July versus June to 2.66 million tonnes thanks to higher wheat and barley shipments, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s grain exports have slumped since the start of the war because its Black Sea ports – a key route for shipments – were closed off, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.

An agreement was concluded last month to unblock Ukrainian seaports and allow the departure of ships carrying grain.

July’s exports included 412,000 tonnes of wheat, 183,000 tonnes of barley, 1.1 million tonnes of corn, 362,100 tonnes of sunseed and tonnages of other commodities, the ministry said.

However, in a separate statement the ministry said Ukrainian grain exports were still down almost 52% year-on-year at 2.2 million tonnes so far in the 2022/23 season.

Grain exports for the 2021/22 season ending June 30 rose 8.5% to 48.5 million tonnes, driven by strong shipments before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Ukraine has said 370,000 tonnes of grain were exported from seaports after their unblocking.

The ministry data showed that exports so far in 2022/23 included 1.45 million tonnes of corn, 562,000 tonnes of wheat and 192,000 tonnes of barley.

The government has said that Ukraine could harvest at least 50 million tonnes of grain this year, compared with a record 86 million tonnes in 2021, because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower grain yields.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Toby Chopra and Elaine Hardcastle)