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Russia, Ukraine Sign Grain Export Agreement

Specialty Food Association

Russia and Ukraine agreed Friday to begin shipments of grain that Russia has blockaded in the Black Sea, easing a global food crisis that has especially impacted countries in Africa and the Middle East, which rely heavily on the Ukrainian export, reports The Washington Post.

Two agreements between the countries at war with each other were signed in Istanbul: one guarantees the safe passage of commercial ships from three Ukrainian ports including the one at Odessa, and the other facilitates Russian grain and fertilizer exports. The agreements are in effect for 120 days from the signing date, with the option to renew.

“Today, there is a beacon on the Black Sea,” U.N. secretary-general António Guterres, who presided over the event, said at a ceremony for the initiative. “A beacon of hope, a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief, in a world that needs it more than ever... It will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.”

Many countries depend on Ukraine’s grain export, particularly in East Africa, including Somalia and South Sudan, which indicated that as many as 50 million people are facing acute food insecurity in the two countries.

The Russian signatory, defense minister Sergei Shoigu, assured that Moscow will not exploit the deal for military gain and expects grain transport to begin soon.

“Unblocking Ukraine’s ports will not reverse the damage war has wreaked on crops, agricultural land and agricultural transit routes in the country,” Mercy Corps, the relief organization, said in a statement regarding the agreement. “We must recognize that our global food systems were already failing.” Full Story

Related: Study Finds Disparities in Food Insecurity at County Level; U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Warns Ukrainian Grain Must Flow