April 19. 2024. 8:53

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Zelenskyy promises solution to Ukrainian grain flooding Polish market

Poland and Ukraine will find a solution to the issue of cheap Ukrainian grain flooding the Polish market to the detriment of Polish farmers, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his visit to Warsaw on Wednesday.

After the EU launched its Solidarity Lanes to help the country with its agricultural sector, significant amounts of low-cost Ukrainian grain entered the country, saturating the market and causing issues for local grain producers due to its lower cost. Farmers have since been up in arms and have called for assistance before the next harvest.

Zelenskyy, who visited Poland for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, met with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and participated in the Polish-Ukrainian Economic Forum with representatives of national businesses.

Regarding the massive inflow of Ukrainian grain and other products to Poland, Zelenskyy confirmed that he had discussed with Polish authorities “to find a way out.”

The ultimate solution to the problem that bothers Polish farmers will be found in “a matter of days, weeks,” Zelenskyy added, without hinting what the answer might be.

Minister resigns over failure to deliver on agreement with farmers

Meanwhile, Polish Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk gave up on the longtime pressure from farmers and announced his resignation.

As the reason for his decision, he cited his inability to implement the agreement with the farmers’ movements signed last week, in which farmers obliged the Agriculture Ministry, among other things, to apply to the European Commission to reimpose tariffs for Ukrainian grain.

“I resigned from the position of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, aware that the European Commission will not accede to farmers’ basic demand,” he told the press briefing on Wednesday, explaining that the Commission has already proposed to extend the liberation measures for import from Ukraine for another year.

Even if the farmers’ demands were met, they did not receive Kowalczyk’s decisions with great enthusiasm.

“In a moment of horrible problems, no one heads the ministry nor takes responsibility for anything. This is outrageous,” Michał Kołodziejczak, leading farmer activist and founder of the AgroUnia movement of food producers, told a press conference.

He said the farmers demand the whole ministry leadership to resign and be replaced with “an expert, someone out of us, who are currently protesting.” Asked if the farmers want to conclude another agreement with the new minister, he suggested that the present one remains in force and anyone who heads the ministry is obliged to implement it.

Kołodziejczak also announced that he had written a letter to Zelenskyy, in which he praised “the courage and heroism” of the Ukrainian president but also explained to him how serious is the problem of massive import of Ukrainian grain for Polish producers.

He pointed out that Polish food security is a joint interest of Poland and Ukraine.

“We both know that if we are to help you (Ukrainians) and support you in your military effort we have to be strong as well. I am convinced that you understand it,” he wrote.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)