Ukrainian grain export targets via Poland unrealistic, says minister

Tractor harvest grains of wheat in a farm field. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

EU’s target to transport 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain by the end of July is far from realistic. Logistic problems such as the lack of equipment are hindering the mission, which the EU and US could have supported and coordinated better, claimed the Polish agriculture minister Henryk Kowalczyk.

Kowalczyk shared these views in an interview with Reuters. He underlined that Poland was, more or less, left alone to manage Ukraine’s export crisis with little support from Brussels. As a result, Poland is currently at a dead end because there is insufficient capacity and equipment to deliver Ukrainian grain to the EU.

“At this point, the EU target to transport 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain is becoming unrealistic. Had we started moving forward in mid-May, it would have been challenging, but we could have been closer,” Kowalczyk said to Reuters. At the same time, he stressed the vitality of deploying mobile grain loaders and more containers at the border points between Poland-Ukraine to ensure quick transhipment.

Not an unexpected development

A couple of weeks before Kowalczyk’s statements, Halina Bajczuk from PKP Cargo had disclosed to RailFreight.com that Poland is facing some substantial issues with transporting Ukrainian grain.

“From the coming weeks or months, we will not have the capacity – I mean containers – that the new grain cargo requires. So we need to cooperate. If you have spare containers for grain and other cargo from Ukraine, we shall do the transportation together,” she mentioned in a discussion with representatives from Lithuanian and Estonian railway companies in mid-June.

Additionally, she underlined that the scarce equipment was not the only issue, with Polish ports also reaching their limits. “Unfortunately, there is no more place and additional capacity in the Polish ports, so we need to talk about using Klaipeda port and the Estonian and the Latvian ports to forward Ukrainian cargo,” she said.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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