Ukrainian grain truckers struggle to cross the border

HUNDREDS of grain trucks and their drivers have to queue for more than a week to cross the border from Ukraine to Europe.

Ukrainian farmers are desperate to transport tons of last year’s grain harvest to Europe by road, but their trucks are stuck at the borders with Poland and Romania for days.

As shipping ports in Ukraine are closed, many ships, some full of grain, cannot transport goods to where they are needed. The ships’ crews have left, some even to fight Russian forces, and there are numerous mines at sea preventing any navigation for the foreseeable future.

Even if the ships are ready to depart, they have to wait to get clearance from their insurance companies before they travel, which is highly unlikely given the circumstances.

Therefore, farmers, to try to get cash, are trucking their grain to Europe. They are also desperate to clean out their bins to have enough storage space for this year’s harvest.

Kees Huizinga, farmer and breeder, operates 15,000 hectares in Cherkasy, 200 km south of Kyiv, with his two partners. The farm houses 2000 dairy cows, 450 sows and grows crops for export including wheat, maize and sunflowers, and there are also 350 hectares of vegetables with drip irrigation.

With ports closed, Kees resorted to sending his three lorries loaded with corn across the road border into Romania, but thanks to heavy bureaucracy, drivers have to wait days to cross.

“Apart from waiting five plus days in the queue to get out of Ukraine into Romania, they have to wait days at the border on the other side to get home,” Kees said.

“The situation is crazy. People all over the world will starve if we can’t deliver Ukrainian grain to them, but our trucks are stuck with paperwork, some of it not even essential.

“I myself skipped the queues just to see what was going on. There are 25 km of trucks on the Ukrainian side waiting to cross into Poland and the drivers are waiting five to six days there,” he reported.

“If farmers start moving larger volumes of grain to Poland, these queues will easily reach 100 km in length. I call for the establishment of green corridors to allow our grain to move freely and quickly to our customers and to remove this bureaucracy that is holding us back,” he said.

Trucker Andriy, who works for Kees, has made just a few crossings in the past month, spending most of his time sitting at the border with a full load of grain.

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“It’s really frustrating,” Kees said. “We need this grain to flow freely. Andriy also spent an extra day at the Romanian border post because they were asking for an extra document from a veterinary inspector. This is the fourth time in the last 30 days that Andriy has delivered corn to Romania, and they have never requested this document before.

“In a few weeks, farmers in Romania, as well as other countries, will start harvesting their cereals. If this mess is not sorted out, their logistics will not be able to handle additional Ukrainian harvests on top of their own,” he warned.

Before the war, Ukraine was considered the breadbasket of the world, exporting 4.5 million tons of agricultural products per month through its ports.