Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Mykola Solskyi addressed the issue while speaking at a press conference in Brussels following the meeting of the Council of EU Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
"There is enough wheat in Ukraine to meet domestic needs. It’s now the cheapest in the world here, in the country. We have more than 20 million tonnes in stock, of which more than 70 percent is to be exported. Indeed, for a week or two there were rumors that Ukraine itself was in a difficult situation. Indeed, but these countries are also in a difficult situation. The value of such a step is all the greater," said the Ukrainian minister.
He recalled that, in line with the decision of the Government and the Decree of the President of Ukraine, 50,000 tonnes of food wheat will be delivered to Somalia and Ethiopia, 25,000 tonnes each, as humanitarian aid from Ukraine. Transportation of grain will be organized from the Black Sea ports of Ukraine with the assistance of the World Food Programme.
Answering Ukrinform's clarifying question of how exactly the Russian war affects the forecast harvest volume this year, Mykola Solskyi said that it stands at approximately 65-67 million tonnes, including grain and oil crops. Last year, it was 108 million tonnes. But then it was a record harvest in the entire history of Ukraine, and it was harvested in peacetime.
"Last year's 108 million tonnes was a record for the entire history of Ukraine and agriculture. In addition, this harvest was collected from the entire territory of Ukraine, including those areas that are currently under temporary occupation, and which we did not include in this year’s calculation. Therefore, if you compare the 65-67 million tonnes of grain from the territory that we now control with the harvest from the same territory last year, this is not such a significant drop, within the framework of the average yield in Ukraine for the past five to seven years," noted the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food.
As reported, after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia blocked Ukrainian Black Sea ports, as a result of which more than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain failed to be exported. This has triggered an increase in global food prices, leading to the threat of famine in the most vulnerable countries across Africa and Asia.
Thanks to the "grain" initiative of the UN and the agreements signed in Istanbul, the international community managed to resume the export of Ukrainian grain to international consumers via the Black Sea transport routes. At the same time, the European Union organized the so-called "solidarity corridors" on the borders between the EU and Ukraine, for the export of Ukrainian grain by land, using rail, road, and river transport, to ensure its delivery to the consumer countries.