With Ukraine’s seaports blocked due to the ongoing Russian invasion, the country is now exporting grain to Europe via rail for the first time according to Ukrainian agricultural research agency APK-Inform.
The first shipments of several thousand tonnes of grain have now been sent by rail from western Ukraine to other European countries, with authorities now saying that as much as 600,000 tonnes can be exported by train every month.
“Wheat, oil, corn and other agricultural products made in Ukraine are the core of stability and safety for many countries all over the world,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video speech on March 26.
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“Russian forces are mining fields in Ukraine, destroying agricultural machinery and fuel stocks that are needed for this season's harvest. They blocked our ports. Why do they do it? Ukraine will still have enough food to feed its population. However, no exports from Ukraine will hurt many countries.”
Belgium and other European countries depend on Ukrainian grain
Before the war, Ukraine exported more than 5 million tonnes of grain every month, most of it via sea from its ports on the Black Sea. However, since Russia's invasion has cut off most of Ukraine's access to the sea, those ports are now blocked and authorities have looked at new ways to meet European demand for grain.
In light of production shortages, Ukraine has also banned exports of certain agricultural products to sustain its own domestic food supply.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the disruption of exports have caused the prices of agricultural goods to rise sharply, including in Belgium, where some grocery stores are experiencing shortages of products and imposing buying limits to prevent hoarding.
The war also threatens production of Belgium's famous frites, as sunflower oil is also a major export of Ukraine.
As a result of Ukraine’s role as one of the largest exporters of food in the world, President Zelensky has warned that a migration crisis caused by the Russian invasion in Ukraine will be quickly followed by a global food crisis.