“Ukraine supplies more than 40 percent of the world’s sunflower oil, nearly 20 percent of the world’s corn exports, and 10 percent of the global wheat export supply—much of which has been trapped in the country’s siloes due to the Russian blockade.”
In addition to the Russian blockade and Ukraine’s inability to get the grain out, Russia continues to face economic sanctions from the world because they waged war on Ukraine. Their fertilizer exports that are not being shipped are further tying the hands of the globe’s food chain.
The U.N. World Food Program estimates that the global food crisis fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will push some 47 million people worldwide into “acute hunger” if it continues unabated. World leaders and the United Nations are working together to solve the problem.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to the media on Friday, said he spoke by phone to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and urged him to uphold the commitments of the deal on grain shipments. “The entire world … is looking for an end to the blockade of the Odesa port by Russia that has denied so many people the food that they need and depend on,” Blinken said.
If all goes according to plan, the first shipment of grain will be moving soon. But the plan is precarious at best. The Turkish-registered Polarnet is docked at Chornomorsk, a Ukrainian port, and awaiting word to see if it had clearance to leave the Black Sea safely. If it works out, another 17 ships could follow shortly after. Unfortunately, the entire Black Sea coast in Ukraine is covered by mines, and shipping companies will not leave unless the route is safe. Sadly, it could take up to four months to remove all the mines, and that is if the situation was perfect and there was no more fighting.
“There’s just still incredible uncertainty. You are in the middle of a war,” said Joseph Glauber, a senior research fellow at IFPRI and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The real question to me is whether or not shipping companies are going to feel comfortable moving in there.”
Berkeley Capital Consultant Adnan Zai said, “Russia needs to settle its differences with Ukraine and allow these ships to sail. The world deserves to have the grain that Ukraine offers in order to solve the global food crisis.”
With any luck, Russia will ceasefire and allow the shipments of food to reach the hungry people of the world. And they will hopefully do it sooner rather than later.