WARSAW, POLAND – Poland announced on May 16 that it is taking measures to help neighboring Ukraine increase grain exports into western Europe, according to a report by Reuters.

Ukraine’s sea ports have been blocked off by Russia’s invasion since late February, forcing the world’s fourth largest corn and fifth largest wheat exporter to ship its grain across its western border by rail and via the Danube River ports.

Polish customs procedures and lack of personnel at the border crossing have limited Ukraine’s export efforts so far, but Ukraine agriculture minister, Mykola Solskiy, said on May 16 that Poland plans to “significantly simplify the border cross of our grain goods and increase export volumes, which is the ministry’s priority.”

Ukraine noted that its grain exports for the first 10 days totaled about 300,000 tonnes, less than half of what it shipped during the same period a year ago, according to Reuters.

The blockade of Ukraine’s ports has taken millions of tonnes of grain and grain-based products off the market and caused global wheat, corn and vegetable oil prices to soar to record highs in recent weeks.

Other European countries also have pledged to aid Ukraine in getting more grain shipped through its western border.

The German government is working to build a “grain bridge” to move agriculture products out of Ukraine and bring machinery in by railways, according to Handelsblatt, a German media outlet.

Michael Theurer, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, confirmed to the media outlet that talks were being held with the Ukrainian railways and other European railways, such as the neighboring railways in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. There is talk that a total of up to 20,000 trains could be run, Handelsblatt reported.

“As a rail transport officer, I am committed to ensuring that 20 million tonnes of grain can be shipped in order to avert a global hunger catastrophe,” Theurer said.