KYIV, UKRAINE — Railroad grain wagons headed to Ukraine’s ports in the Odesa region have increased 26% to 5,341 from 4,227 over the past week, Reuters reported, citing an official with the Ukrainian Railways who credited the alternative Black Sea exports corridor for the improvement.

Valeriy Tkachov, deputy director of the commercial department at Ukrainian Railways, said in a Facebook post that up to 970 wagons were unloaded at the ports’ silos every day. A week earlier the number of wagons jumped by around 50%.

In August, Ukraine launched what it called a “humanitarian corridor” for ships bound for African and Asian markets to try to circumvent a de facto blockade in the Black Sea a month after Russia quit the grain deal that had guaranteed Ukraine’s seaborne exports. The new corridor runs along Ukraine’s southwest Black Sea coast into Romanian territorial waters and onward to Turkey.

Russia initiated a blockade following its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The Black Sea Grain Initiative was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey with Ukraine and Russia in July 2022 and was credited with calming global markets and averting food shortages.

Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Nov. 9 that 91 vessels had exported 3.3 million tonnes of agricultural and metal products since the new corridor started operating in August.

The UCAB agricultural business association said this month that Ukrainian grain agricultural exports rose by 15% to 4.8 million tonnes in October thanks to the new corridor.

Ukraine’s government expects a grain and oilseeds harvest of 79 million tonnes in 2023, with a marketing year 2023-24 exportable surplus of about 50 million tonnes.