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KYIV: A senior government official said on Monday Ukraine’s grain harvest was likely to drop to around 48.5 million tonnes this year from 86 million tonnes last year following Russia’s invasion.

First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi said the total area sown had fallen by 25% and the 2022/23 exportable surplus could be 30 million tonnes, meaning significant loss of revenue.

The wheat harvest would be around 17-20 million tonnes, he said. Ukraine is usually a major global grain and oilseed grower, but its exports have fallen sharply since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. Because of a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, Kyiv is trying to export by road, river and rail.

The fall in production and in exports has stoked fears of a global food crisis and the war, together with Western sanctions against Russia, have sent the price of grain, cooking oil, fertiliser and energy soaring.

Efforts led by Turkey to negotiate safe passage for grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports has not produced a breakthrough. Kyiv has said Moscow is setting unreasonable conditions and the Kremlin has said free shipment depends on an end to the international sanctions against Russia.

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