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Can the Russia-Ukraine Grain Agreement Ease the Global Food Shortage?

The world couldn’t be hungrier when the two warring nations, Ukraine and Russia, signed the grain deal. But, can the Russia-Ukraine Grain Agreement ease the global food shortage?

Here’s an in-depth report:

Russia-Ukraine Grain Agreement: “The Beacon in the Black Sea”

The Russia-Ukraine Grain deal is a parallel agreement between the opposing countries under the supervision of the United Nations and Turkey.

On the one hand, the deal promises ship transportation of grains and agricultural products from Chernomorsk, Odessa, and Yuzhny under a safe transit. Also, instead of the armed escort, the nations will monitor their ship’s movements from the Istanbul coordination center by officials of the two belligerent countries, Turkey and the U.N.

As per the agreement, the inspection team in Turkey will also look for illegal goods and passengers on board ships going to and fro the Ukrainian ports.

The deal, however, excludes extensive demining of the Black Sea. Although, if necessary, another nation can also dispatch minesweepers to clear maritime channels if necessary.

The grain agreement is signed to be in effect for 120 days and can be renewed afterward.

Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal
Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal

Secondly, the agreement is meant to facilitate Russia’s export of grain and fertilizers. In fear of repercussions, banks and dealers stayed away from Russian shipments in the early stages of the war. But with the agreement in place, suppliers and banks can safely carry out the shipments in and out of Russia.

The Effect of the Russia-Ukraine War on Global Food Shortage

Before the war, Ukraine exported an estimated six million tonnes of food per month, mostly through its black sea ports.

However, since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia has ceased specific Ukraninas ports, including Berdyansk and Mariupol. Furthermore, the regime has almost blocked ports still under the Jurisdiction of Kyiv, such as Odesa.

This, coupled with the sanctions imposed on Russia by the west, spiked the global food prices that were already high due to climate change and pandemics.

The effect of the soaring food prices immediately affected the North African and Middle Eastern countries; which rely heavily on Ukrainian and Russian grain.

The result- bread prices soar at an all-time high, causing long lineups at bakeries in Tunaisa. Moreover, to quell social unrest over increased rates, the Egypt government had to intervene in the bread market.

Can the Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal Ease the Global Food Shortage?

Together Russia and Ukraine make up over 25% of the world’s wheat supply. According to 2020 data, almost 20% of the world’s export of wheat, the most extensively grown grain, are produced in Russia, while 8% are produced in Ukraine.

Over fifty nations buy more than 30% of their wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. Furthermore, Ukraine is the fourth-largest product of maize in the world, and the eighth-largest producer of wheat, making up 16% of all exports.

Clearly, most of the world’s major producers have been affected by the Ukraine war. This added to the burden of the already increasing global food shortage.

In June, the U.N.’s food price index averaged 154.2 points, a 23 percent increase from the previous month. In recent weeks, food price inflation has risen sharply in all economies. Therefore, if the export deal is put into effect; grains from Russia and Ukraine will flow back into the market, bringing down prices.

First grain ship ready to sail
First grain ship ready to sail

Furthermore, the World Food Program buys about 40% of its food aid wheat supply from Ukraine. Therefore, the agreements can increase WFP’s ability to assist nations experiencing hunger or situations bordering on famine.

The release of 20 million tons of grain trapped in Ukraine will not reverse the global food shortage. But it can definitely provide a huge relief to hungry nations. However, much will rely on how soon and well the agreement is put into effect.

Hunger Getting Hungrier: The Silent Risks

Without a shadow of a doubt, the global hunger crisis is rising!

Even the much-lauded Russia-Ukraine grain deal is in jeopardy since the enforcements provisions are intricate and might be compromised by activities on the war front line. The Russian missile launches at the Ukrainian ports of Odesa just one day after the agreement was signed also put Moscow’s intentions in question.

“How will the safety of vessels in the port of Odessa be ensured, if Russia continues shelling?” 

Anton Gerashchenko

Many experts are gravely concerned that available food supplies may wind up in the hands of those with money and power at a time of food scarcity. Leaving the poorer nations hungry and struggling.

This might instigate another worldwide health crisis, one not driven by a brand-new disease but by hunger. And with the twin traumas of global food shortage and energy prices, Peter Sands, the director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, believes that “we’ve probably already begun our next health crisis.”

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