Ukraine has new way to get its grain to world despite Russia’s Black Sea threat

| | Kyiv
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Ukraine has new way to get its grain to world despite Russia’s Black Sea threat

Tuesday, 28 November 2023 | AP | Kyiv

(): Grain thunders into rail cars and trucks zip around a storage facility in central Ukraine, a place that growing numbers of companies turned to as they struggled to export their food to people facing hunger around the world. Now, more of the grain is getting unloaded from overcrammed silos and heading to ports on the Black Sea, set to traverse a fledgling shipping corridor launched after Russia pulled out of a UN-brokered agreement this summer that allowed food to flow safely from Ukraine during the war.

“It was tight, but we kept working...we sought how to accept every ton of products needed for our partners,” facility general director Roman Andreikiv said about the end of the grain deal in July. Ukraine’s new corridor, protected by the military, has now allowed him to “free up warehouse space and increase activity”.

Growing numbers of ships are streaming toward Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and heading out loaded with grain, metals and other cargo despite the threat of attack and floating explosive mines. It’s giving a boost to Ukraine’s agriculture-dependent economy and bringing back a key source of wheat, corn, barley, sunflower oil and other affordable food products for parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where local prices have risen and food insecurity is growing. “We are seeing renewed confidence among commercial operators keen to take Ukrainian grain cargoes,” said Munro Anderson, head of operations for Vessel Protect, which assesses war risks at sea and provides insurance with backing from Lloyd’s, whose members make up the world’s largest insurance marketplace. Ihor Osmachko, general director of Agroprosperis Group, one of Ukraine’s biggest agricultural producers and exporters, says he’s feeling “more optimistic than two months ago.”

“At that time, it was completely unclear how to survive,” he said. Since the company’s first vessel departed in mid-September, it says it has shipped more than 300,000 metric tons of grain to Egypt, Spain, China, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Tunisia and Turkey. After ending the agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey, Russia has attacked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports — a vital connection to global trade — and grain infrastructure, destroying enough food to feed over 1 million people for a year, the UK government said.

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