EU should help Ukraine with grain exports: Poland's dep PM

Corn is shipped to the grain run of the Roksana-K farm, Vinnytsia, west-central Ukraine. Photo: Oleksandr Lapin / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Poland's deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk has said that the entire European Union should throw in its lot with Kyiv in helping it export grain to alleviate the burden taken in this respect by countries neighbouring Ukraine.

Henryk Kowalczyk said during a Monday meeting of EU agriculture ministers that although it had been originally assumed that grain imported from Ukraine would go to countries of Western Europe and Africa, some of it has remained in neighbouring countries and farmers there have had problems selling their own grain due to full warehouses.

We want to involve the whole European Union in helping Ukraine in order to mitigate the effects suffered by farmers from border countries in connection with the import of Ukrainian agriculture products,” Kowalczyk said.

He went on to say that the countries bordering Ukraine were ready to continue helping Kyiv. “There is no way that we will turn our backs on Ukraine... but we also want to involve the whole EU in this aid,” he stressed.

Poland’s deputy PM has appealed for concerted action by the European Commission in this matter.

“Firstly, to seal the transit, to enable the transport of this grain outside the neighbouring countries, but also to provide assistance in the current situation. As part of this assistance, I proposed various solutions, including the activation of the crisis reserve in agriculture”, the official said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, greatly disrupted Ukrainian exports of grain. Russian military vessels had been blocking Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea for over the first four months of the war.

Under an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey on July 22, 2022, to open a safe maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea, over 600 ships full of grain and other foodstuffs have left three Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

As of January 2023, over 18 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported via the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the European Council informed, adding that 46 percent of the cargo had been maize, the grain most affected by blockages in Ukrainian granaries at the beginning of the war (75 percent of the 20 million tonnes of grain stored).