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Russia, Ukraine prolong grain deal to help world’s poor

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KYIV, Ukraine — An unprecedented wartime deal that permits grain to circulation from Ukraine to international locations in Africa, the Center East and Asia the place starvation is a rising menace and excessive food costs are pushing extra individuals into poverty has been prolonged, officers stated Saturday.

The extension was introduced by the United Nations and by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however neither confirmed the size of the extension.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov tweeted that the deal had been prolonged for 120 days — the size that Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations had needed. There was no rapid remark from Russia, which had needed to resume for 60 days.

That is the second renewal of separate agreements that Ukraine and Russia signed with the United Nations and Turkey to permit meals to depart the Black Sea area after Russia invaded its neighbor greater than a yr in the past. The warring nations are each main international suppliers of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and different reasonably priced meals merchandise that growing nations depend upon.

Russia has complained that shipments of its fertilizers — additionally important to the worldwide meals chain — will not be attending to international markets, which has lengthy been a problem beneath the deal that first took impact in August and was renewed for one more 4 months in November.

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The struggle in Ukraine despatched meals costs surging to document highs final yr and helped contribute to a world meals disaster additionally tied to lingering results of the COVID-19 pandemic and local weather elements like drought. That disruption in shipments of grain wanted for staples of diets in locations like Egypt, Lebanon and Nigeria exacerbated financial challenges and helped push tens of millions extra individuals into poverty or meals insecurity. Folks in growing international locations spend extra of their cash on fundamentals like meals.

Meals costs have fallen for 11 straight months, however meals was already costly earlier than the struggle due to droughts from the Americas to the Center East — most devastating within the Horn of Africa, with 1000’s dying in Somalia. Poorer nations that depend upon imported meals priced in {dollars} are spending extra as their currencies weaken.

The disaster has left an estimated 345 million individuals dealing with meals insecurity, in line with the U.N.’s World Meals Program.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative has helped by permitting 24 million metric tons of grain to depart Ukrainian ports, with 55% of the shipments heading going to growing nations, the U.N. stated.

The agreements even have confronted setbacks because it was brokered by the U.N. and Turkey: Russia pulled out briefly in November earlier than rejoining and increasing the deal. Up to now few months, inspections meant to make sure ships solely carry grain and never weapons have slowed down.

That has helped result in backlogs in vessels ready within the waters of Turkey and a latest drop within the quantity of grain getting out of Ukraine.

Ukrainian and a few U.S. officers have blamed Russia for the slowdowns, which the nation denies.

Whereas fertilizers have been caught, Russia has been exporting enormous quantities of wheat after a document crop. Figures from monetary information supplier Refinitiv present that Russian wheat exports greater than doubled to three.8 million tons in January from the identical month a yr in the past, earlier than the invasion.

Russian wheat shipments had been at or close to document highs in November, December and January, growing 24% over the identical three months a yr earlier, in line with Refinitiv. It estimated Russia would export 44 million tons of wheat in 2022-2023.


Andrew Wilks in Istanbul, Elise Morton in London and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.


See AP’s full protection of the struggle in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine and the meals disaster at https://apnews.com/hub/food-crisis.

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