An overnight Russian drone attack has damaged Ukrainian grain infrastructure near the Danube River, Reuters reported Odessa regional governor Oleh Kiper as saying.
The drone attack on 6 December on the Izmail port district – which has been key to exporting Ukrainian grain in recent months – killed a driver, and damaged a storage building, an elevator and trucks, according to Kiper.
Ukraine’s Danube ports had become an important outlet for the country’s grain exports following Russia’s invasion in February 2022 and subsequent blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports, the 7 December report said.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, allowed for the safe export of grain, but Russia withdrew from the agreement in July and began hitting Danube port infrastructure with waves of drone attacks in August and September. The latest attack was the first since 21 November.
A major exporter of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil, Ukraine’s grain exports have continued to fall significantly compared to the previous year, with 13.4M tonnes exported to date this year, compared to 18.3M tonnes at the same point last year, according to data from the agriculture ministry.
Ukraine officials have forecast a harvest of 79M tonnes of grain and oilseeds in 2023/24 with an exportable surplus of 50M tonnes.
Against this backdrop, Ukraine has reached an agreement on export procedures for its corn, rapeseed, sunflowerseed and wheat exports to Bulgaria, according to a 5 December AgriCensus report.
Bulgaria had banned imports of the four commodities from Ukraine after the European Commission decided in September not to extend its temporary prohibition on Ukrainian imports of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflowerseed into Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to protect domestic farmers, AgriCensus wrote in an earlier report on 23 November.
Under the new agreement between Ukraine and Bulgaria, exports would be allowed but bilateral consultations with the importing country would need to be held, the report said.
“The Bulgarian government lifted the restrictions and supported our action plan for the verification and approval of the export of certain types of agricultural goods,” Ukraine’s Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi was quoted as saying.
“Finally, all technical issues between our countries have been agreed upon and the Ukrainian government can start accepting applications from exporters,” Solskyi added.
However, trade sources in the region had warned that there was still a lack of clarity on how the process would work, AgriCensus wrote.
“In theory, [export] is permitted as of the first of December, but in practice, no one knows what documents are needed and how it can happen,” one Bulgaria-based trader told AgriCensus.