November 28, 2011


Shortage of rail grain wagons affects Ukraine's grain exports


Due to a shortage of railway grain wagons, Ukraine's grain exports may not exceed 20 million tonnes in the 2011/12 season, the head of Ukrainian Grain Association (UZA) traders' union said on Friday (Nov 25).


Volodymyr Klymenko said that Ukraine's state railway operated 11,700 grain wagons but 20% of them were outside Ukraine or under repair.


"Traders book 2,500 wagons per day while the railway can provide them with no more than 1,200," Klymenko said.


The railway said on its website it operated 11,579 grain wagons and loaded an average 572 wagons a day. The railway also said it had shipped 8.2 million tonnes of grain to foreign consumers so far this year.


Ukraine plans to harvest all-time high 55 million tonnes of grain this year and the Farm Ministy forecast that the exports could reach a record 27 million tonnes.


Ukraine harvested 39.2 million tonnes of grain and exported 12.7 million in the 2010/11 season.


"We cannot reach the level of 2.8-3.0 million tonnes of grain exported per month and Ukraine will be able to export 20 million tonnes until July 2012," Klymenko said.


Analysts have said Ukrainian 20 sea and river ports could export about 3.5 million tonnes of grain per month.


"It's our old problem and we see no positive changes," a large foreign trader said.


"The railway is being restructured and it creates additional problems. The situation is difficult," another trader said.


Exporters in Russia and Kazakhstan have also reported logistics issues.


The farm ministry last week said Ukraine had exported six million tonnes of grain since July 1, up from 5.2 million tonnes in the same period of 2010.


It said the volume included about two million tonnes of corn and two million tonnes of wheat.


The ministry has forecast that corn exports could reach 12 million tonnes in 2011/12 compared to five million in 2010/11.


Ukrainian agriculture officials have said exports could have been higher but export restrictions in the first three months of the season cut the volume.


In October, the parliament cancelled export duties for wheat and corn but kept in place the levy on exports of barley.


Analysts have said the lifting of export duties will accelerate grain shipments from Ukraine but they say the increase would prove to be more telling in November.


UkrAgroConsult has said the former Soviet republic could export 22.9 million tonnes of grain, including 9.7 million of wheat, 9.6 million of corn and 3.2 million of barley this season.


ProAgro consultancy forecast the export of 21 million tonnes in 2011/12.

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