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UPDATE 1-Ukraine farm ministry keeps 2022 grain crop estimate at 50-52 mln tonnes vs 86 mln t in 2021

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By Pavel Polityuk

KYIV, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine expects a 2022 grain crop of 50-52 million tonnes, unchanged from the previous estimate and down from 86 million tonnes last year, the agriculture ministry said on Monday.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi also told a televised news conference that grain exports in September were expected to total 5.4 million to 5.5 million tonnes, up from 4.5 million tonnes in August.

Ukraine exported around 6 million tonnes a month before Russia launched its invasion on Feb. 24.

"The war has brought with it difficulties, but we see that farmers have coped with them," Vysotskyi said.

Farmers have already completed the 2022 wheat harvest, threshing around 19 million tonnes of the commodity in bunker weight, and about 5.5 million tonnes of barley, he said.

Ukraine, a major global producer and exporter of grain, harvested 32.2 million tonnes of wheat and 9.4 million tonnes of barley in 2021.

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

Three Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv that was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

The ministry's data showed Ukraine exported 1.5 million tonnes of grain in the first 13 days of September, 34% less than the 2.3 million tonnes exported in the same period a year ago.

Ukraine has so far sent abroad around 3.9 million tonnes of food, mostly corn, under the deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, it said on Monday.

Four ships left Ukraine on Monday morning carrying 178,780 tonnes of agricultural products, the country's infrastructure ministry reported.

Vysotskyi said his ministry had raised its estimate for white beet sugar output in 2022 to 1.1 million to 1.2 million tonnes, against a previous estimate of 1.1 million tonnes. It produced 1.3 million tonnes of white sugar from beet in 2021.

The ministry said farmers started the 2022 sugar beet harvest last week, getting 334,000 tonnes of roots from 3.5% of the sowing area. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk Editing by Gareth Jones)

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