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WARSAW: Poland on Friday resumed transit shipments of Ukrainian grain and other food through its territory, partially lifting a nearly week-long ban imposed in response to protests from farmers.

Poland and other EU countries bordering Ukraine imposed temporary bans on Ukrainian grain imports after farmers complained they were causing domestic prices to slump.

Ukraine stepped up exports of agricultural and food products through EU nations after Russia's invasion disrupted its usual Black Sea shipping route.

Polish authorities said Friday the transit of dozens of Ukrainian food items -- including sugar, meat, fruits and vegetables -- is now permitted, but these products may not be sold on the country's market.

Poland on Saturday banned the entry of dozens of food items from the war-torn country, and Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria followed suit with similar moves.

But Warsaw and Kyiv announced a deal Tuesday to allow the resumption of their transit through Poland, under strict checks and controls, involving placing electronic seals on the transports.

EU offers more cash to appease Ukraine grain concerns

Additionally, Polish customs officers will, for a week, escort the vehicles carrying exports.

"We will let such a transport out of our sight only when it enters the port to be loaded, for example grain onto a ship, or leaves the Polish border," Bartosz Zbaraszczuk, head of the Polish customs agency, told RMF24 radio.

But protesting farmers said letting the transit flow might do further harm to Polish exporters.

"This will not relieve the situation on our farms, in our warehouses," Wieslaw Burzynski from the Pomeranian Chamber of Agriculture told reporters on Friday.

"Because grain and Ukrainian products will enter into competition with our products," Burzynski said.

In a bid to placate the farmers, the Polish government on Friday announced a fresh batch of farming subsidies worth 10 billion zloty ($2.38 billion) and urged the European Union to approve the measures.

"The authorisation must come from the European Commission so that a European clerk does not knock on the farmer's door somewhere and demand the return of the payment," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference.

The populist right-wing government in Warsaw has accused the EU of failing to help farmers.

But Brussels criticised the Polish government for imposing the import ban unilaterally, without consulting Kyiv or the EU.

On Friday, the agricultural ministers of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia sent a letter to the European Commission expressing their dissatisfaction that the brunt of the burden of managing the increase in imports falls on just a few member states.

They called on Brussels to speed up efforts to provide additional help to their countries, according to a statement from the Polish ministry.


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