Some 30m tonnes of grain is sitting in Ukrainian silos and storage units “just waiting and spoiling”, according to director general of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club (UCAB) Roman Slaston.

The farmer representative told a briefing of western media on Thursday that “Ukraine has grain but it just can’t export it”. He said the situation is “unbelievable” at a time when global food security is at risk.

Slaston claimed that the Ukrainian government’s efforts to invest in infrastructure to mobilise greater volumes of grain exports via rail are helpful but won’t be good enough to address the problem.

He described how “very small volumes” of grain are passing through the Romanian and Polish land borders on a daily basis. In all, he said there are only 10 railway routes suitable and available for grain exports.

The farmer said that these 10 routes have a max capacity of 560 grain and 130 sunflower oil “wagons” per day but warned that the current level of operation, at approximately 270 wagons, is far lower. He said even at max operating capacity, these rail routes will not suffice.

Slaston said the only way Ukraine will be able to move the amounts of grain it needs to export is if its sea ports are unblocked and sufficiently protected from Russian forces and called for western countries to support this.

While one port in the southwestern part of Ukraine is operating with over 30,000t of grain leaving on ships daily, he said this needs to be increased.

Land leasing

Slaston also described how changes have been made to stabilise the agricultural land ownership “situation” in Ukraine at present.

He said the ability to buy and sell agricultural land has been paused for 2022 and that the government has extended its agricultural land leases by one year. He said this is in order to avoid disruption to land leases at such a critical time for Ukraine and for the agricultural sector.