Three more ships carrying grain are leaving Ukrainian ports under the UN deal, one of them bound for Ireland


Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of grain left Ukrainian ports on Friday, one bound for Ireland.

This is the latest sign that a negotiated deal to export grain, which has been stuck since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago, is slowly moving forward but faces major hurdles to getting food to countries that are trying to export it they need most.

The ships to Ireland, Great Britain and Turkey follow the first cargo of grain to cross the Black Sea since the beginning of the war.

The Panama-flagged Navistar left Odessa bound for Ireland with 33,000 tons of grain to be taken over by Irish grain and animal feed company R&H Hall.

A company spokesman said: “R&H Hall can confirm that they will receive their 33,000 tonnes of cargo on arrival at the ports of Foynes and Dublin.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, no ship has been allowed to leave Black Sea ports since February 24, the day the war began, pending an agreement.

“Resuming departures of ships like the Navi Star from the Black Sea is the first step in restoring some level of security to the global food supply chain in what remains an unstable situation.

“We look forward to the Navi Star arriving in port in approximately two weeks.”

The ship’s passage 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 is dubbed the breadbasket of the world, with Ukraine and Russia being the key 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 ships to put out are among more than a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships that were loaded with grain but have been stuck in 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 percent of international wheat trade, but in terms of production it’s not even 5 percent,” said David Laborde, an expert on agriculture and trade at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.

The three ships departed on Friday with over 58,000 tons of corn, but that’s still a fraction of the 20 million tons of grain Ukraine says is locked in the country’s silos and ports that need to be shipped in order Make room for this year’s harvest.

Around six million tonnes of the grain caught is wheat, but only half of that is for human consumption, Mr Laborde said.

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

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 percent 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 about 60 percent 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.

“When 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,” Mr Laborde said.

The three ships that left Ukraine on Friday offer hope that exports will surge to developing countries, where many face increasing threats of food shortages and hunger.

“The movement of three additional ships overnight is a very positive sign and will continue to give confidence that we are moving in the right direction,” said Mr. Haines.

“If grain flow from Ukraine continues to increase, it will help alleviate global supply shortages.”

The Turkish-flagged Polarnet carrying 12,000 tons of corn left the port of Chornomorsk bound for Karasu, Turkey.

The Panama-flagged Navi Star left the port of Odessa with 33,000 tons of corn bound for Ireland. The Maltese-flagged Rojen departed Chornomorsk for Britain, transporting over 13,000 tonnes of corn, the UN said.

It added that the Joint Coordination Center – led by officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, which oversees the deal signed in Istanbul last month – approves the three ships and one ship heading for Ukraine has inspected.

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 on Friday in Sochi, Russia.

This meeting follows another face-to-face meeting the two leaders had in Iran three weeks ago.

With reporting from PA. Three more ships carrying grain are leaving Ukrainian ports under the UN deal, one of them bound for Ireland

Fry Electronics Team

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