One year of the Black Sea Initiative: key facts and figures

Inspection of a ship for the Joint Coordination Center of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

It is also known as the Black Sea Grains Initiativeand has been directed by the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul, made up of Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN.

Here we present the main facts and figures:

What has the Black Sea Grains Initiative achieved since it was signed in July 2022?

Almost a year after the agreement, more than 32 million tons of food products have been exported from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports to 45 countries on three continents.

The partial resumption of Ukraine’s maritime exports enabled by the Initiative has unlocked vital food commodities and helped reverse rising global food prices, which reached record highs shortly before the agreement was signed.

He food price index of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) posted a steady monthly decline over the past year, falling more than 23% from its peak in March 2022.

The Initiative has allowed the World Food Program (WFP) transported more than 725,000 tons of wheat to help people in need in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Ukraine supplied more than half of WFP’s wheat grain in 2022, the same as in 2021.

Find the updated data here:

Food prices and inflation remain high. How has the Initiative helped millions of hungry people around the world?

Although global food commodity prices have generally fallen, many factors influence food affordability and inflation at the country level, including exchange rates. The Initiative has helped reintegrate Ukrainian food products into global supply chains, contributing to lower prices on world markets.

The FAO Food Price Index stood at 140.6 in July 2022, when the Initiative was launched. It has decreased by 11.6% since then, reaching 122.3 points in June 2023.

In the same period, the FAO Cereal Price Index fell by 14%, from 147.3 points to 126.6 points, thanks in part to increased global supplies facilitated by the Initiative.

Why should the Black Sea Initiative continue?

Before the conflict, Ukraine was one of the main exporters of cereals and the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil. Its production must continue to flow without hindrance, to supply markets and help contain prices.

The lack of food supplies has repercussions on the lives of millions of people, particularly the poorest, hitting them hard in the areas of health, education and social cohesion.

The Initiative has enabled the partial resumption of vital food supplies on the market. It has given Ukrainian farmers a level of predictability in production and harvesting and has revived key shipping routes.

Inspection of a ship for the Joint Coordination Center of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Is the Initiative intended to provide food to low-income countries in Africa and elsewhere? Is it primarily humanitarian or commercial?

The goal of the Black Sea Initiative is to facilitate exports from three Ukrainian seaports. Crops from Ukraine are sold all over the world, including in countries where part of the population is food insecure.

The cargo can be processed and re-exported from the initial destinations. The Initiative does not stipulate where exports should go. However, exports to any country, rich or poor, can help calm world markets and mitigate food price inflation.

Supplies transported by WFP under the Initiative are directly supporting people in need in humanitarian crises. In July 2023, that agency purchased 80% of its wheat grain from Ukraine under the Initiative, up from 50% in 2021 and 2022.

In this unique operation, commercial exports have global benefits.

When will the Initiative be renewed and for how long?

The initial duration of the Black Sea Initiative was 120 days from July 22, 2022. All parties renewed it on November 18 for another 120 days.

On March 17, all parties agreed to its renewal, but the Russian Federation only agreed to a 60-day extension pending review. On May 18, Russia confirmed its participation in the agreement for another 60 days. As a result, the agreement will now be renewed on July 17.

The United Nations would like to see the Initiative implemented and extended for as long as it takes for food to be transported out of Ukraine using the Black Sea route safely and cost-effectively.

Why have food exports through the Initiative been drastically reduced in recent months?

Food exports through the Initiative have decreased significantly in recent months due to slow inspections and the exclusion of the Yuzhny/Pivdennyi port from the Initiative.

From a record daily average of eleven inspections in October 2022, the daily average has fallen below five in April, May and June 2023.

Monthly exports peaked at 4.2 million tons in October 2022, but were only 1.3 million tons in May 2023.

Details and data on cargo volumes and destinations are available here.

Why hasn’t ammonia been exported?

Fertilizer exports are essential for agricultural production and food security. The Initiative provides for the export of fertilizers, including ammonia.

He General secretary has stressed the importance of increasing supplies of fertilizers and ammonia to support global food security. However, to date no fertilizers or ammonia have been exported under the Initiative.

Ammonia exports under the Initiative would depend on the resumption of the ammonia pipeline from Togliatti in Russia to the Ukrainian port of Yuzhny/Pivdennyi. Damage to the pipeline was reported on June 5 and its current status is unknown.

Why doesn’t the UN call for more ship inspections to increase shipments?

The United Nations remains firmly committed to supporting the effective implementation of the Initiative as it continues. However, implementation is based on consensus, so all parties must agree on the pace of the operation.

Inspections are carried out jointly and all parties authorize each vessel for both its inbound and outbound voyage. The UN team at the Joint Coordination Center is there to facilitate and work with the parties, as well as help address operational challenges.

High-level engagement with the parties continues in an effort to secure agreement on a package of measures to address major concerns in a mutually acceptable manner.

Inspector Metin Gezer during an inspection in the Sea of ​​Marmara.

Inspector Metin Gezer during an inspection in the Sea of ​​Marmara.

How is the Initiative implemented? Why do exports from Ukraine have to go through an inspection regime and exports from Russia do not?

The responsibility of the Joint Coordination Center is to facilitate the safe passage of commercial vessels carrying grain, food products and fertilizers, including ammonia, in and out of three Ukrainian ports: Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.

The Center is also responsible for inspections of incoming and outgoing vessels to ensure there are no unauthorized cargo or crew. Center publicly reports about shipments and ship movements provided under the Initiative.

The Black Sea Initiative does not address exports from Russian ports.

Harvest on a farm in Baranove, Odessa, Ukraine.

Harvest on a farm in Baranove, Odessa, Ukraine.

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Written by Editor TLN

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