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UPDATE 1-Ukraine grain exports down 29.6% at 18.1 mln T so far in 2022/23

(Adds figure for grain exported under Black Sea deal)

KYIV, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Ukraine has exported almost 18.1 million tonnes of grain so far in the 2022/23 season, down 29.6% from the 25.8 million tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed on Friday.

The volume included more than 6.9 million tonnes of wheat, 9.7 million tonnes of corn and about 1.5 million tonnes of barley.

After an almost six-month blockade caused by the Russian invasion, three Ukrainian Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaking in a video address, said the deal had allowed Ukraine to export almost 13 million tonnes of agricultural products.

The government has said that Ukraine could harvest about 51 million tonnes of grain this year, down from a record 86 million tonnes in 2021, because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower yields.

Last Saturday, Ukraine and allied nations launched a plan to export $150 million worth of grain to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought.

Zelenskiy said the first ship had already left for Ethiopia with a cargo of wheat and would be followed by a second vessel. A third will be loaded with wheat, destined for Somalia.

By early next year, a total of around 60 ships will have taken part in the initiative, he added. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and David Ljunggren Editing by David Goodman and Marguerita Choy)

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