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23.5M tons of food stuck in Ukraine, PM says

Ukraine is trying to ramp up its capacity to store grains like wheat and corn ahead of a summer harvest that will add to a 23.5 million ton stockpile, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Wednesday.

In a post on Telegram, the prime minister said saving the new harvest is one of the “main challenges” facing farmers now on top of accessing fuel.

Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s major sea ports like Odesa and Mykolaiv on the Black Sea is keeping 23.5 million tons of grains like corn, wheat and oilseeds like sunflowers stuck in the country, with only around a fifth of normal supply trickling out each month by Ukraine’s land borders.

Kyiv aims to ramp up its capacity to store grain by between 10 to 15 million tons by organizing “mobile storage” on farms, Shmyhal said. The country’s storage problem threatens to worsen the global food crisis because the quality of food held in silos deteriorates over time.

Farmers managed to plant three-quarters of the farmland they planted this time last year, Shmyhal said. “The government has taken all possible measures to successfully carry out the most difficult sowing campaign in history. Now we must be no less successful in harvesting and reaping,” said Shmyhal.

EU officials warned diplomats in Brussels on Tuesday that the upcoming harvest could drop by up to 50 percent because of the war.

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