Despite the recent increases, Elender said, grain prices remain lower than they were on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, in part because the deal is expected to close. In addition, Ukraine’s grain exports have recently declined due to limited labor, as workers went to war, limited fuel supplies and lost territory to Russia.
Ukraine has also increased its exports by truck, train and river barge.
Dutch bank Rabobank said on Thursday that Ukraine is still able to export most of its wheat, corn, barley and sunflower seeds through alternative routes. But the memorandum will put additional pressure on ports on the Danube, which flows from Germany’s Black Forest into the Black Sea, transportation will become more expensive, and railway infrastructure will be more vulnerable to a Russian attack.
“The high cost of transportation means that Ukrainian farmers may reduce the area under cultivation in the future,” the note said.
Ukraine is one of the major exporters of grain and the world’s main exporter of sunflower oil, and the deal allowed Ukraine to re-export the millions of tons of grain that fell after the invasion.
Ukraine has exported 32.9 million metric tons of grain and other agricultural products to 45 countries since the initiative was launched, according to United Nations data. Under the agreement, the ships were allowed passage by Russian naval vessels that blocked Ukraine’s ports in the wake of Russia’s all-out invasion.
Higher prices are expected to disproportionately affect the poorest people in the world. Last year, Ukraine supplied more than half of the World Food Program’s wheat grain that was sent to people in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, according to the United Nations.