1) A deal to get critical supplies shipped back
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, normally supplies about 45 million tons of grain to the global market each year but, after the Russian invasion of the country, by the end of February 2022, mountains of grain had accumulated in bunkers, with ships unable to ensure safe passage to and from Ukrainian ports, and overland routes unable to compensate can cover.
This contributes to rising prices of staple foods around the world. Along with rising energy costs, developing countries have been pushed to the brink of default and more and more people are on the brink of starvation.
On July 22, the United Nations, the Russian Federation, Türkiye and Ukraine agreed Black Sea Grains Initiativeat a signing ceremony in the Turkish capital Istanbul.
The agreement allows the export of grain, other foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine, including ammonia, to continue through a safe maritime humanitarian corridor from three important Ukrainian ports: Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhny/ Pivdennyi, to the rest of the world.
To implement the agreement, a Joint Coordination Center (JCC) was established in Istanbul, consisting of high-level representatives from the Russian Federation, Türkiye, Ukraine and the United Nations.
According to the procedure issued by the JCC, ships wishing to join the Initiative will undergo a check off the coast of Istanbul to ensure there is no cargo, and then pass through the maritime humanitarian corridor to Ukrainian ports to loading. The corridor is set up by JCC and monitored 24/7 to ensure safe passage of ships. Vessels on their return journey will also be inspected at an inspection area off Istanbul.
2) Millions of tons are leaving Ukraine
Shipment due to the Monitoring Initiative began to leave from August 1. By the end of the month, more than 100 ships, loaded with more than a million tons of grain and other foods, had left Ukraine. In mid-September, the JCC reported that about 3 million tons had left Ukraine, signaling positive progress. It is expected that, eventually, up to five million tons will be exported monthly.
According to UN figures, 51% of the goods to date (as of mid-September?) are corn, 25% wheat, 11% sunflower products, 6% rapeseed, 5% barley, 1 % soy bean. beans and one percent other food.
3) About a third of shipments will go directly to lower income countries
25% of goods have been shipped to low- and middle-income countries. Egypt (8%), India and Iran (4% each), Bangladesh, Kenya and Sudan (2% each), Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti (1% each) and Tunisia (less than 1% each) per country) cents)
This includes ships chartered by the United Nations to provide humanitarian food assistance – World Food Program (WFP) bought wheat – to the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Two ships chartered by the United Nations have left Ukraine, while two more are expected to appear soon. To date, WFP has purchased 120,000 tonnes of wheat to support humanitarian relief operations in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The first ship chartered by WFP docked in Djibouti on August 30 to assist with drought response in the Horn of Africa. A second ship chartered by the United Nations, carrying 37,500 tons of wheat, set sail on August 30 and docked at Türkiye on September 3, where the wheat will be milled.
The flour will then be loaded onto another ship that will go to Yemen to support World Food Program humanitarian work there. The third and fourth ships chartered by WFP will also deliver wheat for relief operations.
About 25% of the grain has gone to upper-middle-income countries – including Türkiye, China and Bulgaria; and 50% to high-income countries such as Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Korea, Romania, Germany, France, Greece, Ireland and Israel.
The UN pointed out that all grain being brought out of Ukraine’s ports thanks to the Initiative benefits those in need, as it helps to calm the market and limit food price inflation.
4) Food prices are falling
There are strong signs that the Initiative is succeeding in one of its main goals, which is to bring down food prices.
At a press conference in mid-September, Rebecca GrynspanSecretary-General of the United Nations trade body, known as UNCTADand Amir AbdullaThe United Nations Coordinator for the Black Sea Grains Initiative welcomes the fact that prices have fallen for five consecutive months: Food Price Index has fallen nearly 14% from its peak in March of this year.
Mr. Abdulla explained that falling prices meant that people who had been hoarding grain, hoping to sell for a bigger profit, sold, which means there is now more food supply in the market, leading to prices continue to fall. Ms. Grynspan, also the UN Global Coordinator Working Groups was established to assist countries in dealing with three economic shocks that have worsened as a result of the war in Ukraine, indicating that this is making a big difference in the global cost of living crisis. bridge.
Globally, a record 345 million people in more than 80 countries are currently facing severe food insecurity, while up to 50 million people in 45 countries are at risk of being pushed into starvation if no humanitarian assistance.
In August, WFP CEO David Beasley declared the opening of Black Sea Ports “the single most important thing we can do right now to help the hungry in the world”. He warned that, while this by itself would not prevent world hunger, getting Ukrainian grain back into the global market would improve the chances of preventing it. global food crisis from the spiral even further
5) Continuous collaboration is necessary for continued success
The UN is acutely aware that keeping shipments out of Ukrainian ports smooth will require the continued cooperation of Ukraine and Russia. Mr. Abdulla praised the “spirit of cooperation” among the Initiative’s parties. He also noted the special role of Türkiye and the UN in sustaining this process.
However, with no clear end to the war, the future is uncertain.
The current initiative could extend beyond the first 120 days from its signing date on July 22, if the parties so choose. Thoughts at the JCC group in Istanbul have turned to extending the agreement. Mr Abdulla remained optimistic, expressing hope that “with the UN’s mediation efforts, it won’t really be a matter of discussion”.