240 vessels have so far left Ukrainian ports with some 5.4 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs, since two months of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (August 1, 2022). Confidence is returning among global distributors as exports ramp up with the Black Sea Grain Initiative helping release desperately needed grain and fertilizer from ports in Ukraine and Russia.
Described as a “beacon of hope” by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the signing ceremony for the plan on 27 July in Istanbul, with representatives from Russian and Ukraine, the agreement has made it possible to bring down global food prices and prevent a food crisis that could affect millions of people.
UN Representative Dennis Malone at the Joint Coordination Centre, which facilitate the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative said “what I am seeing with the Black Sea Grain Initiative is an increase in confidence, confidence in the shipping community, the commercial shipping community.
“We are seeing the price of shipping insurance reduced, we are seeing the quality of ships that are being used to come in to export the grain are increasing. We are also seeing an increase in confidence in the local community, in the farming community. They are starting to see that their grain is being exported, that the silos are being emptied and that they can start planning for future harvests.”
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, normally supplies around 45 million tonnes to the global market every year.
BLACK SEA GRAIN; MATTER OF SURVIVAL
After Russia’s invasion of the country on 24 February, mountains of grain built up in silos, with ships unable to secure safe passage to and from Ukrainian ports. Today, although sea routes are open again, serious economic challenges remain for the country’s farmers.
“For the moment, the prices offered are too low,” said Vyachyslav Nevmerzhytskyi, Deputy Chairman of the Association of Farmers of the Odesa region. “Today, I would be selling at a loss because the cost to grow and produce the grain remains (higher).
“So, if I agree to sell at these prices now then I would be making a loss. Therefore, this is a matter of survival, the financial survival of (my) farm businesses.”
BLACK SEA GRAIN; WAITING GAME
Transporting the grain to the ports also remains incredibly slow. Truck drivers wait in kilometre-long lines to get reach Yuzhny port and some have been stationary for days.
“After the truck is loaded, it takes three to four hours for me to get here, ready for discharge,” one drive told UN News. “But I’ve been standing (here) for five days. There is no movement, there is no administration, there is no-one to explain how long we will stay here, what to do, to move, to go home.”
In line with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukrainian vessels guide cargo ships seeking passage to and from Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny, through a maritime humanitarian corridor in international waters. Their task is to steer well clear of stretches of water that have been mined.