In August export of Ukrainian grain resumed along the Black Sea. DW collected answers to the main questions regarding grain exports during Russia’s wars against Ukraine.

What role does Ukraine play in global food security?

Ukraine is one of the most important world grain producers. The country grows and exports mainly wheat, corn and barley. According to the European Commission, Ukraine accounts for 10% of the world market for wheat, 15% for corn, and 13% for barley. It is also the most important player in the sunflower oil market. Ukrainian sunflower oil accounts for more than 50 percent of the world market.

Corn and wheat are the most widely grown cereals in the world. If Ukraine disappears from a number of their exporters, this could have serious consequences for global food security.

Who is the largest producer of wheat, corn and barley?

According to statistics from the US Department of Agriculture, in 2021-2022, Ukraine ranked seventh in the world in wheat production – 33 million tons. Australia, USA, Russia, India, China were ahead of it. In first place is the EU, if we take into account the total production of wheat in all EU member states.

In terms of corn production, Ukraine ranks sixth. More corn from mid-2021 to mid-2022 was grown in Argentina, the EU, Brazil, China and more than others in the United States. Ukraine ranks fourth in the world in terms of barley production. It is only ahead of Australia, Russia and the EU, which is in first place in the production of barley.

Who buys grain from Ukraine?

The top wheat importers in 2020, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), are: Egypt ($5.2 billion), China ($3.47 billion), Turkey ($2.44 billion dollars), Nigeria (2.15 billion dollars) and Indonesia (2.08 billion dollars). Egypt was the largest buyer of wheat from Ukraine.

For corn, the top importers in 2018 were Mexico ($3.14 billion), Japan ($2.94 billion), South Korea ($1.92 billion), Vietnam ($1.85 billion) and Spain ($1.72 billion). More relevant data from the ECO is not yet available. The main buyers of corn from Ukraine were the Netherlands, Spain and China.

The top countries that buy barley in 2020 were China ($1.77 billion), Saudi Arabia ($1.38 billion), the Netherlands ($512 million), Belgium ($369 million) and Germany ($307 million). ). The largest consumer of Ukrainian barley was China.

How does Russia’s war against Ukraine affect the global grain market?

Grain deliveries were interrupted due to the blockade of Ukrainian ports by Russia. This raised fears of a food crisis around the world and led to a sharp rise in prices. By mid-May, export prices for wheat and corn reached hitherto unprecedented levels. According to the UN, this threatened with serious consequences for the countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the situation with the provision of food to the population was significantly worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, however, the grain market has stabilized. Thus, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), despite the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the global grain harvest this year is likely to be only slightly less than in 2021. And the prospects that opened up after the agreement between Kyiv and Moscow on the export of Ukrainian grain gave rise to hope for its uninterrupted export.

What does the “grain agreement” between Ukraine and Russia mean?

July 22 in Istanbul with the mediation of the UN and Turkey an agreement was signed between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the purpose of which is to end the blockade of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain. Under this agreement, 20-25 million tons of grain, which are currently blocked in Ukraine, can finally be exported. In particular, the agreement provides for the creation of safe corridors in the Black Sea from the coast of Ukraine to the Bosphorus. Ships in these corridors and their respective ports cannot be attacked. Grain exports are monitored at the focal point in Istanbul. Representatives of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey work in it under the leadership of the UN. Export is provided from three Ukrainian ports – Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny.

On August 1, the first dry cargo ship with Ukrainian grain left Odessa, two days later it was checked in Istanbul and headed for Lebanon. On August 5, the Turkish Ministry of Defense reported that three more ships with Ukrainian grain went to sea – dry cargo ships Polarnet and Rojen stationed in Chornomorsk headed, respectively, to Karasu (Turkey) and British Teasport, and Navistar left the port of Odessa with corn intended for landings in Ireland. In total, there are more than 58,000 tons of corn on board these ships.

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