KYIV, UKRAINE — Grain shipments via rail to Ukraine’s Odesa region have increased significantly since the start of a new Black Sea export corridor, Reuters reported, citing Valeriy Tkachov, deputy director of the commercial department at Ukrainian Railways.

Tkachov said on Facebook that over the past week the number of grain wagons heading to Odesa ports increased by more than 50% to 4,032 from 2,676.

In August, Ukraine launched a “humanitarian corridor” for ships bound for African and Asian markets to try to circumvent a de facto blockade in the Black Sea after Russia quit the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had guaranteed shipments amid the countries’ war.

Later, a senior agricultural official said the route, which runs along Ukraine's southwest Black Sea coast, into Romanian territorial waters and onwards to Turkey, would also be used for grain shipments.

More than 700,000 tonnes of grain have left Ukrainian ports via the new route since August. Ukraine shipped up to six million tons of grain per month from its Black Sea ports before Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine's first deputy farm minister said last week that grain shipments through the new corridor may exceed 1 million tonnes in October. However, ministry data showed on Oct. 30 that overall grain exports fell by about 50% in October due to logistics difficulties.

Ukraine's government expects a grain and oilseeds harvest of 79 million tonnes in 2023, with a 2023-24 exportable surplus of about 50 million tonnes. Ukraine has been among the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower seeds in recent years.