3 more Ukrainian grain ships set sail – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Gmx Pharm

ISTANBUL — Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn left Ukrainian ports on Friday, in the latest sign a negotiated deal is slowly moving forward to export grain that has been locked up since Russia invaded Ukraine almost six months ago.

But there are still major hurdles to get food to the countries that need it most.

The ships head for Ireland, the United Kingdom and Turkey. They track the first cargo of grain through the Black Sea since the beginning of the war. The passage of this ship, which was bound for Lebanon earlier this week, was the first under the landmark deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations with Russia and Ukraine.

The Black Sea region has been dubbed the breadbasket of the world, with Ukraine and Russia being the major global suppliers of the wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil on which millions of impoverished people in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia depend for survival.

While the shipments have raised hopes of alleviating a global food crisis, much of the grain Ukraine is trying to export will be used for animal feed, not human food, experts say.

The first vessels to depart are among more than a dozen bulk carriers and cargo vessels loaded with grain but stuck in Black Sea ports since the Russian invasion in late February. And the shipments are not expected to have a significant impact on global corn, wheat and soybean prices for a number of reasons.

For starters, exports under the deal have gotten off to a slow, cautious start amid the threat of explosive mines floating off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

And while Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat to developing countries, there are other countries like the United States and Canada with far higher production levels that can impact global wheat prices. And they are threatened with drought.

“Ukraine accounts for about 10% of international wheat trade, but in terms of production it’s not even 5%,” said David Laborde, an agriculture and trade expert at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

The three ships left Friday with over 58,000 tons of corn, but that’s still a fraction of the 20 million tons of grain that Ukrainian officials said are locked in the country’s silos and ports and need to be shipped to make room for this year’s harvest create .

Around 6 million tons of the grain captured is wheat, but only half of that is for human consumption, Laborde said.

It is expected that Ukraine could produce 30% to 40% less grain over the next 12 months because of the war, although other estimates put that number at 70%.

Grain prices peaked after the Russian invasion and although some have since fallen to pre-war levels, they are still higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. Corn prices are 70% higher than at the end of February 2020, said Jonathan Haines, a senior analyst at data and analytics firm Gro Intelligence. He said wheat prices are around 60% higher than in February 2020.

One reason prices remain high is the impact of drought on crops in North America, China and other regions, as well as higher prices for fertilizers needed for agriculture.

“If fertilizer prices are high, farmers may use less fertilizer. And if they use less fertilizer, they produce less. And if they produce less, supply will continue to be insufficient,” Laborde said.

The three ships that left Ukraine on Friday still offer hope that exports will increase to developing countries, where many face the mounting threat of food shortages and hunger.

“The movement of three additional vessels overnight is a very positive sign and will continue to build confidence that we are moving in the right direction,” Haines said. “If grain flow from Ukraine continues to increase, it will help alleviate global supply shortages.”

The Navi Star, sailing under the Panama flag, left the port of Odessa for Ireland with 33,000 tons of corn. The Rojen, sailing under the Maltese flag, left Chornomorsk for Great Britain with over 13,000 tons of corn. And the Turkish-flagged Polarnet carrying 12,000 tons of corn left the port of Chornomorsk bound for Karasu in Turkey, the UN said.

It added that the Joint Coordination Center – which is headed by officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations and oversees the deal signed in Istanbul last month – is approving the three ships and inspecting a ship bound for Ukraine Has. The Barbados-flagged Fulmar S was inspected in Istanbul and is heading for the port of Chornomorsk.

The controls are designed to ensure that outbound cargo ships are only carrying grain, fertilizer or food and no other goods, and that inbound ships are not carrying weapons. Because of the explosive mines scattered in the Black Sea, the ships are escorted by Ukrainian pilot ships to ensure safe passage.

After Turkey, which has ties with both Russia and Ukraine, helped broker the food deal two weeks ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin later Friday in Sochi, Russia. This meeting follows another face-to-face meeting the two leaders had in Iran three weeks ago.

Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN officials arrive for inspection on the cargo ship Razoni on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 while it is moored at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, Turkey. The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, loaded with 26,000 tons of corn, is the first cargo ship to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion and will set sail from Odessa on Monday, August 1, 2022. His final destination is Lebanon. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
photo The ship Navi-Star with a cargo of corn sails out of the port in Odessa, Ukraine, on Friday, August 5, 2022. Ukraine is a major global grain supplier, but the war had blocked most exports, so the July 22 deal was aimed at easing food security around the globe. Global food prices have skyrocketed amid a crisis attributed to war, supply chain issues and COVID-19. (AP Photo/Nina Lyashonok)
photo The ship Navi-Star with a cargo of corn sets sail on Friday, August 5, 2022 from the port in Odessa, Ukraine. Ukraine is a major global grain supplier, but the war had blocked most exports, so the July 22 deal was aimed at facilitating food security around the globe. Global food prices have skyrocketed amid a crisis attributed to war, supply chain issues and COVID-19. (AP Photo/Nina Lyashonok)

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