May 12, 2022
Ukraine urges to unblock ports and stop a potential global food crisis
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the international community to take steps to end a Russian blockade and allow Ukrainian wheat exports to stop a potential global food crisis, Reuters reported.
The president spoke to Charles Michel, European Council President, who visited Odesa. Odesa is a key Black Sea port used to ship agricultural goods, but the area was devastated by missile strikes.
Zelenskiy said it is the first time since World War II that Odesa has no merchant activity or port work.
He said many nations are at the brink of food shortages because Ukraine cannot export its stored grains.
Data from the International Grains Council showed Ukraine was the fourth biggest corn exporter in the 2020/21 season and the sixth biggest wheat exporter. A UN food agency official said close to 25 million tonnes of grains are now stuck in Ukraine.
Michel said he had seen silos full of grain, wheat, and corn in Odesa ready to be shipped, but blocked.
International financial markets have been more volatile since Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports, pushing commodity prices up.
Agriculture authorities in Ukraine claim the exportable grain surplus is about 12 million tonnes, and economists think Ukraine's reserves are so high that there won't be enough space to store the upcoming harvest when it arrives.
Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine's Agriculture Minister, said the country has planted roughly 7 million hectares of spring crops this year, down 25-30% from the previous year.
He stated that Ukraine sold 1.090 million tonnes of grain in April, but that the planting quality was not as good as previous year, and that the corn sowing area was lower.