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Grain traders in Ukraine have called for transparent cargo rules, Reuters reported.

The Ukrainian grain traders’ union (UGA) has asked the country’s government to provide transparent rules on the protocol for cargo ships waiting to load at Ukrainian Black Sea ports under the export deal arranged by the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, according to the 1 March report.

“It is extremely important that work in Ukraine is open and transparent,” UGA was quoted as saying in a statement.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) brokered last July allows grain and agricultural products to be exported from three Ukrainian ports that have been blockaded by Russia following its invasion.

Extended for 120 days in November, the agreement is due to expire tomorrow unless an extension is agreed, according to Reuters.

Ukraine had accused Russia of delaying inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian agricultural goods, leading to reduced shipments and losses for traders, although Russia had denied those accusations, the report said.

The UGA proposed changing the system for queues of ships, so that it was organised on a monthly basis by stevedores or terminals rather than by vessels, Reuters wrote. The priority should go to vessels registered as in the queue as of 9 February, it added.

In addition, the union said terminals should provide the Ukrainian seaport authority with a detailed plan of ships movements every two weeks for passing on to the Joint Coordination Center in Turkey, which was responsible for overseeing implementation of the deal.

UGA had also proposed allocating a ship quota for each operator, making it public in advance and prohibiting any changes to the established queue in terms of quota distribution to terminals, the report said.

“One of the main tasks of the state is to create procedures and rules that will ensure the country’s sustainable development. One of these rules is free access to markets and the creation of a competitive environment,” UGA said.

Ukraine’s grain exports for the 2022/23 season were down 26% to 32.3M tonnes to date, due to a smaller harvest and logistical difficulties caused by the Russian invasion, according to the country’s agriculture ministry.

Although Ukraine’s 2022 grains and oilseeds harvest at 67M tonnes was 30% lower compared to the previous year, this year’s harvest could be even lower, according to estimates by the Ukrainian Agri Council reported by World Grain on 24 February.

Andriy Dykun, head of the Ukrainian Agri Council and SaveUA Charity Fund, estimated that farmers sowed 26% less hectares of winter crops compared to the previous year in the territories controlled by Ukraine and 43% compared with the total figure planted the previous year. The spring sowing campaign was also expected to be a big challenge, he was quoted as saying.

“According to farmers, grain production (in 2023) will decrease by 37% compared to 2022 and 60% compared to 2021,” Dykun said.