Poland’s Minister of Agriculture Henryk Kowalczyk met the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Solsky, and the EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on Monday to discuss Polish assistance with the shifting of Ukrainian grain that has been affected by Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports.
Kowalczyk acknowledged the key alternative route is through Poland and, according to the Polish minister, all the key ports in Poland — Gdańsk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Świnoujście — are ready to receive Ukrainian grain. The biggest challenge is at the border where the difference in rail gauges slows down transport. The Poles have promised to speed things up on the border with 24-hour manning of all phytosanitary inspections.
Kowalczyk said the war had destabilized food markets and could adversely affect the yield from the next harvest, therefore reducing the supply on global markets. According to the EU’s commissioner Wojciechowski, Ukraine needs to be exporting 5 million tons of grain to prevent food insecurity on a global scale, especially in Africa and the Middle East. He promised the EU would cut red tape and provide the necessary support for transport to shift the grain. Wojciechowski added that the grain stolen by Russia must not be allowed to be sold to close the gap on the food markets.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared that the U.S. will provide $2.5 billion for market support on top of assistance already being granted to Ukraine. He said his country condemned using hunger as a weapon, and Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain.
Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Solsky thanked Poland, the U.S. and the EU for their assistance, adding that he was counting especially on Poland with regard to getting the grain exported from Ukraine, and reiterating that export corridors for Ukrainian grain were vital.