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An agreement has been reached between Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania to allow the transit of Ukrainian agricultural products through Poland to third countries by transferring product inspections from the Polish border to a Lithuanian port, World Grain wrote.

As part of the three-nation agreement, Ukrainian grain exports — destined for markets in Africa and the Middle East in particular — will be taken directly through Poland instead of first being checked at the Poland-Ukraine border, according to the 3 October report.

“Over the next two days, veterinary, sanitary, and phytosanitary control will be transferred from the Ukrainian-Polish border to the port of Klaipeda (Lithuania) for all agricultural cargoes heading to this port. This will speed up transit through Poland,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food Mykola Solskyi was quoted as saying.

The agreement was reached during a regular online meeting on 2 October between Solskyi and Poland’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Robert Telus and Lithuania’s Minister of Agriculture Kęstutis Navickas, the report said.

Ukraine had been struggling to export its grain since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 and subsequent blockade of its ports, World Grain wrote.

Meanwhile, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary had extended their import bans on Ukrainian grain, which they claimed was flooding local markets and depressing prices, the report said.

However, the transit of Ukrainian agricultural goods to third countries was allowed to continue.

Against this backdrop, Ukrainian grain exports between 1-24 September dropped by 51% compared with the same period last year, according to data from the country’s agriculture ministry quoted by Reuters.

During the period, the country’s grain exports totalled 1.57M tonnes, a sharp drop from the previous year’s volume of 3.21M tonnes, according to the 25 September report.

According to traders and agricultural unions quoted in the report, the blocking of Black Sea ports and recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian ports on the Danube River were the main reasons for the reduction in exports.

The ministry data showed that Ukraine had exported a total of 6.2M tonnes of grain to date in the 2023/24 July-June season, compared to 7.5M tonnes in the same period of the last season.

The volume included almost 3M tonnes of wheat, 2.5M tonnes of corn and 599,000 tonnes of barley.

Ukraine has traditionally shipped most of its exports through its deep-water Black Sea ports.

However, an agreement brokered by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey to allow such exports ended in July when Russia withdrew from the deal, saying its demands for an easing of sanctions on its own grain and fertiliser exports had not been met, Reuters wrote.

Ukraine is currently able to export limited volumes through small river ports on the Danube and via its western land border with the European Union, according to the report.

In addition, Russian air strikes had caused “significant damage” to infrastructure at the Black Sea port of Odessa and to grain storage facilities, Reuters quoted Ukrainian officials as saying in a separate report on 25 September.

Odessa region governor Oleh Kiper said the facilities that were hit had contained almost 1,000 tonnes of grain and that the bodies of two men were found under the rubble of a warehouse where grain was stored.

Ukraine was expected to harvest at least 80M tonnes of grain and oilseed in 2023 and the 2023/24 exportable surplus totalled about 50M tonnes, Reuters wrote.