Two more cargo ships loaded with corn and soybeans have sailed from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, Ukrainian and Turkish officials say, as part of a deal to unblock the country’s sea exports amid the ongoing military operation in the former Soviet state.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said on Monday that the Sacura, which departed from the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, is carrying 11,000 tonnes of soybeans to Italy, while the Arizona, which left the port of Chornomorsk, is carrying 48,458 tonnes of corn to Iskenderun in southern Turkey.
Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov confirmed that the two ships have left the country's ports, adding that Pivdennyi, the third Ukrainian port included in the deal, is now operational as part of the plan.
According to Kubrakov, the opening of Pivdennyi will increase Ukraine’s monthly export capacity to three million tonnes.
Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN signed agreements last month to create a maritime corridor to make the safe departure of Ukrainian bulkers. Personnel from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN oversee the resumption of grain exports in Istanbul under the framework of a Joint Coordination Center (JCC).
The deal was struck amid fears that the interruption of grain shipments brought on by Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in late February may trigger catastrophic food shortages and even famine breakouts in some areas of the world.
The latest departure of the ships from the Ukrainian ports brings the total to ten since the first vessel sailed last week.
Earlier in the day, the Polarnet, which departed on Friday, also reached its final destination in northwestern Turkey's Derince to be unloaded, marking the completion of the first shipment since the exports were re-launched.
So far, around 243,000 tonnes of corn has been exported from Ukraine on seven ships since the first departure on August 1, according to a Reuters tally of data from Turkey's defense ministry.
The other ships carried 11,000 tonnes of soybeans, 6,000 tonnes of sunflower oil and 45,000 tonnes of sunflower meal.
Ukraine, the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter, normally produces 42% of the world's sunflower oil, 16% of its maize, and 9% of its wheat. Before the military operation, Ukraine sent over 90% of its food exports by sea.
Since Moscow began its military operation in Ukraine on February 24, between 20 million and 25 million tons of grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports.
Last month, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned some 47 million people were in a stage of “acute hunger.”
Experts have warned in case of continuous blockage of Ukrainian grain exports, likely outbreaks of famine are imminent.
Russia and Ukraine together produce almost 30 percent of the global wheat supply.
The WFP, which purchases almost 50 percent of its grain from Ukraine, feeds some 125 million people around the world.