Updated: Aug 10
By Wong Kon How
The Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, also called the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was an agreement among Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to a complete halt of maritime grain shipments from Ukraine, previously a major exporter via the Black Sea. This resulted in a rise in world food prices and the threat of famine in lower-income countries, and accusation that Russia was weaponizing food supplies.
To address the issue, discussions began in April, hosted by Turkey (which controls the maritime routes from the Black Sea) and supported by the UN. The resulting agreement was signed in Istanbul on 22 July 22, valid for a period of 120 days. The deal had been renewed three times.
In summer 2023, Russia has repeatedly claimed it will withdraw from the deal in July 2023 unless its demands are met. By July 17, 2023, no new agreement to renew the deal had been reached, causing the deal to expire.
The collapse of the pact threatens to push up food prices for consumers worldwide and tip millions into hunger and likely to have repercussions far beyond the region.
Ukraine is among the world’s top three exporters of barley, maize and rapeseed oil. It is also by far the biggest exporter of sunflower oil, accounting for 46% of the world’s exports. While Russia is the biggest global supplier of fertilizers.