The success of Ukraine's new Black Sea export corridor has led to a sharp increase in the number of rail wagons heading to the ports of Odesa region, a senior railways official said on Monday.
Valeriy Tkachov, deputy director of the commercial department at Ukrainian Railways, said on Facebook that over the last 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 a deal that had guaranteed Kyiv's seaborne exports during the 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 metric tons 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 one million metric tons in October.
However, ministry data showed on Monday that overall grain exports fell by about 50% in October due to logistics difficulties.
Ukrainian officials say more that 50 cargo vessels have entered the corridor since it came into operation in August.
Ukraine's government expects a grain and oilseeds harvest of 79 million tons in 2023, with a 2023/24 exportable surplus of about 50 million tons.