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Ukraine's 2022/23 grain exports down by more than half so far -ministry

KYIV, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine's grain exports are down 51.6% year on year at 2.99 million tonnes so far in the 2022/23 season, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

Grain exports for the 2021/22 season which ended on June 30 rose 8.5% to 48.5 million tonnes, driven by strong shipments before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Ukraine's grain exports have slumped since the start of the war because its Black Sea ports - a key route for shipments - were closed off, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.

At the end of July, three Black Sea ports were unblocked under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

The ministry data showed that exports so far in 2022/23 included 1.94 million tonnes of corn, 783,000 tonnes of wheat and 257,000 tonnes of barley.

The volumes include 1.29 million tonnes of grain exported in August. Ukraine had exported 3.14 million tonnes in the same period of August 2021.

The government has said that Ukraine could harvest at least 50 million tonnes of grain this year, compared with a record 86 million tonnes in 2021, because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower grain yields. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Jason Neely)

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