Russia and Ukraine continue the grain agreement to help the world’s poor

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — An unprecedented wartime deal allowed grain to flow from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where hunger is a growing threat and high food prices are driving more people into poverty. It was extended just before it expired, officials said Saturday.

The UN and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension, but neither confirmed how long it would last. The UN, Turkey and Ukraine demanded 120 days, while Russia said it was ready to agree to 60 days..

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted on Saturday that the agreement will be valid for a longer period of four months. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agency Tassi that Moscow “agreed to extend the agreement by 60 days.”

This is the second renewal of separate contracts that Ukraine and Russia signed with the United Nations and Turkey to hand over food from the Black Sea region after Russia attacked its neighbor more than a year ago.

The warring countries are both major global suppliers of wheatbarley, sunflower oil and other low-cost food products that developing countries depend on.

Russia has complained about the deliveries of its fertilizers — which its agreement with Turkey and the UN was supposed to facilitate — cannot access global markets, which has been a problem for Moscow since the agreement took effect in August. Nevertheless, it was renewed in November for four months.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement that 25 million tonnes (about 28 million tons) of grain and food have been moved to 45 countries under the initiative, helping to lower global food prices and stabilize them. on the market.

“We remain strongly committed to both agreements and call on all parties to redouble their efforts to fully implement them,” Dujarric said.

The war in Ukraine raised food prices to record highs last year and helped contribute to the global food crisis, which was also linked to the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate factors such as drought.

Food supply disruptions in countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Nigeria exacerbated economic challenges and helped push millions more into poverty. or food security. People in developing countries spend more money on basic things like food.

According to the UN World Food Program, an estimated 345 million people faced food insecurity due to the crisis.

Food prices have fallen for 11 months in a row, but food was expensive even before the war because of the drought From America to the Middle East – I’m devastated in the Horn of Africa, and thousands die in Somalia. Poorer nations that depend on imported food priced in dollars spend more when their currencies weaken.

The accords also faced setbacks as it was brokered by the UN and Turkey: Russia briefly withdrew in November before rejoining and continuing the deal. In recent months, checks aimed at making sure the ships are only carrying grain, not weapons, have slowed.

This has helped lead to a backlog of ships waiting in Turkish waters and, more recently, a drop in grain get out of Ukraine.

Ukrainian and some US officials have blamed Russia for the slowdown, which the country denies.

With fertilizers at a standstill, Russia has exported huge amounts of wheat after a record harvest. Figures from economic data provider Refinitiv showed that Russian wheat exports more than doubled to 3.8 million tonnes in January compared to the same month a year earlier, before the attack.

According to Refinitiv, Russian wheat deliveries were at record highs or close to record highs in November, December and January. It estimates that Russia will export 44 million tons of wheat in 2022-2023.


Andrew Wilks in Istanbul, Elise Morton in London and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.


See AP’s complete coverage of the war in Ukraine at and food crisis at

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