STORY: Over 27 million tons of grains are stuck in Ukraine and unable to leave the country, a U.N. food agency official said on Friday.
Infrastructure challenges due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as blockages at ports - like in the heavily bombarded city of Mariupol - have impeded Ukraine’s ability to export one of its top resources.
Ukraine was the world's fourth largest exporter of corn in the 2020/2021 season and the sixth largest exporter of wheat.
As a result, global supplies have tightened, helping to drive up world food prices – which hit an all-time high in March.
Josef Schmidhuber, a director at the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, calls the situation “almost grotesque”, with more pain to come.
“In the month of July-August, there will be a new crop coming in, and despite the war, the harvest conditions don’t look that dire and that could really mean that there is not enough storage capacity going forward in Ukraine, particularly if there is no 'wheat corridor' opening up for exports from Ukraine.”
Another concern is that some grain storage may have been destroyed during combat.
“There is anecdotal evidence that Russian troops have destroyed storage capacity and that they are looting the storage grain that is available. They are also stealing farm equipment.”
Some grain shipments have left Ukraine by train, over its western border, or from its small river ports.