The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has left the port of Odessa, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Monday.
The Sierra Leone-flagged freighter, the Razoni, left the port of Odessa for Lebanon, the ministry said. A United Nations press release indicates that the Razoni is carrying more than 26,000 tons of maize.
Data from Razoni’s Automatic Identification System, a vessel safety tracking system at sea, showed the ship slowly pulling out of its berth at the port of Odessa on Monday morning alongside a tugboat.
The ship is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, before being allowed to continue, the ministry said.
The corn will be heading to Lebanon, a small Middle Eastern country struggling with what the World Bank has described as one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years. A 2020 explosion at its main port of Beirut shattered its capital and destroyed grain silos there, part of which collapsed following a week-long fire just on Sunday.
“Today, Ukraine, together with its partners, takes another step towards preventing hunger in the world,” said Alexander Kubrakov, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure.
He said it would also help Ukraine.
“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.
The Turkish ministry statement said other ships would also leave Ukrainian ports through security corridors in accordance with agreements signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.
Countries that relied on Ukraine for crops like wheat and beets are experiencing shortages after months of war. Egypt and other countries on the African continent will see food prices “skyrocket” as a result. Donor countries should step in to provide relief, says Lester Munson, principal international and business consultant at BGR Group.
Russia and Ukraine have signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN paving the way for Ukraine – one of the world’s main breadbaskets – to export 22 million tonnes of grain and other products farms stranded in Black Sea ports due to Russian invasion.
The agreements also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizers.