Catastrophe avoided? Russia rejoins UN’s Black Sea Grain Initiative in food security boost

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Russia has agreed to rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative just as world leaders were warning of major food insecurity wreaking havoc across developing countries. After initially pulling out of the Ukraine export deal, Russia revealed this morning it will resume participation and keep the commodity in supply despite the war’s continuing escalation. 

As food inflation climbs to unprecedented levels in countries around the world, experts have warned that further shortages would lead to “catastrophic consequences” for poorer nations. These concerns came as Russia forecasted a record wheat crop yield this year.

However, now Russia has agreed to rejoin the deal, it is understood shipments to African nations will be prioritized. 

Russia has previously claimed that most exports were ending up in wealthier nations, but following assurances (believed to be written) from Ukraine that the grain will be used in line with the initiative, Russia is sufficiently satisfied to make a U-turn and get the grain moving. 

Containers sailed through the Black Sea on Monday and Tuesday this week, even though Russia pulled out of the initiative last Saturday, and the UN says that 15 ships containing corn, wheat and soybean meal departed. However, dozens of ships were also stuck in queues.

It is reported that the United Nations (UN) and Turkey have been heavily involved in brokering the breakthrough. 

On October 29, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the suspension of the agreement to export agricultural goods from Ukrainian ports following what is branded “Ukraine’s terrorist attack on Black Sea Fleet ships.”

Inflation hits developing countries

Countries in the Middle East and Africa usually build up their inventory as Ukraine’s crop sales accelerate around the harvest in September and October. Therefore, a drastic decline in grain imports to the region would have contributed to increased food insecurity and political tension in countries such as Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Turkey.

By Beatrice Wihlander & Gaynor Selby

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