Grain Initiative: the world loses millions of tonnes of Ukrainian foodstuffs every month due to actions of Russia
17.8 million tonnes of Ukrainian agricultural products on 659 vessels have been exported from the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny to 40 countries since August 1, 2022. Since the grain deal was agreed 3 ports had sent 659 ships with food to Africa, Asia, and Europe, and had received 643 new ships for loading with products from Ukrainian farmers.
If the corridor had functioned fully, Ukraine would have exported at least 25-29 million tonnes of foodstuff to world markets. Thus, since October, Ukrainian ports have been forced to work at half their capacity, the volume of the fleet entering the ports for loading has decreased, and the volume of exports has decreased by 3 million tonnes per month.
The main reason is the purposeful sabotage of inspections of ships in the Bosporus by the Russian side, which leads to a consistently long queue of more than 100 ships.
Starting from October 2022, the Russian delegation to the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) began to slow down the ship inspection process artificially. First, as soon as the volume of exports began to grow, the Russian side reduced the number of inspection teams from 5 to 3 without any explanation. Secondly, the time for inspections is artificially increased by checking the performance of vessels, which are not regulated by the JCC documents and have nothing to do with the grain agreement. Thus, it takes more than 4 hours to check one vessel, so only 5-7 inspections are carried out per day with the minimum required 16-18. There are cases when Russians refuse to work for fictitious reasons when all other parties in the JCC confirm the conditions for continuing the inspection.
The problem is solved by increasing the number of inspection teams and the number of inspections per day. We have repeatedly appealed to our partners and they are ready for this. In November, when more than 200 vessels were waiting in the Bosporus, the UN and Turkey independently conducted 86 inspections in two days and proved that it is quite realistic», explained Ruslan Sakhautdinov, Ukraine representative in the JCC.
As of January 18, 121 vessels (28 with agricultural products on board, and 93 vessels that go to ports for loading) are waiting for inspection by the JCC in the Bosporus. The average waiting time is from 2 to 5 weeks, leading to millions of losses for cargo owners.
The queue has been observed since November 2022. This affected the export volumes. Thus, ports exported 47% less agricultural products in November than in October, when these problems began. In October, Ukraine exported 2 tonnes less of foodstuff than it could, and in November and December, this figure increased to 3 tonnes per month.
It is to be recalled that on July 22 in Istanbul, following the UN proposal, Ukraine, Türkiye, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres The Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowed unblocking of the ports of Odessa region, which completed 80% of maritime grain shipments before the war, to support Ukrainian agrarians, to increase foreign exchange earnings to Ukraine, to stabilize world food prices, and to prevent a significant deterioration of the humanitarian situation in countries on the verge of famine, in particular Ethiopia, Somalia, and Afghanistan.