Ukrainian farmers are producing more wheat and corn than expected in a war-torn country where seeds and inputs are difficult to come by and swaths of farmland are in occupied territory, but exports are on the decline again as Russia steps up its attacks on Ukraine’s beleaguered port facilities, according to a new analysis by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Moscow seems intent on letting the Black Sea Grain Initiative expire this coming Monday, but the United Nations is equally resolved to preserve the deal and prevent food prices from rising in some of the poorest nations.
The United Nations was quick to applaud a deal struck in mid-May to keep the Black Sea Grain Initiative from imploding under Russian pressure, but about two weeks later Moscow is again blocking vessel access to Ukrainian ports amid talks to clear an obstacle to Russian ammonia exports.
Exports of Ukrainian corn and wheat that supplied Africa, the Middle East, Asia and European Union all but halted when Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, closing down Black Sea ports. Now, there is a scheme to lessen the impact if those ports are closed again, European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski tells Agri-Pulse.
The inspections of ships hauling grain out of Odesa ports will stop today as United Nations officials scramble to try to convince Russia to resume participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. A UN spokesman said Tuesday the stop to inspections was planned to last just one day.
The deal that opened up grain exports from three ports in Ukraine is widely lauded as a success in bringing down global food prices, but the future of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is being threatened by Russia, and United Nations officials are scrambling to save it.