The Russian Invasion took the world by storm on February 24, 2022, transforming not only the lives of Ukrainians and Russians but also affecting the lives of millions by increasing global hunger. According to the World Food Programme, about 47 million people have moved into acute hunger as a result of this war.
Ukraine is known as the breadbasket of the world, and according to the USDA, provides 11.3% of the world supply (69.82 million tons) of the global cereal trade consisting of wheat, corn, and coarse grain. Russia is also a big game player in the global cereal trade as it makes up 7.8% of the world supply (52.32 million tons). Ukraine and Russia also play a big part in the sunflower oil trade as Ukraine provided 52% and Russia 20% of the global supply in 2020 according to the OECD. As Ukraine exports 90% of its grain through the Black Sea, it has been unable to export most of its grain as Black Sea ports have been blocked by the Russian military. In addition, Russia has destroyed many Ukrainian grain shipments, destroyed farming and harvesting equipment, and burned acres of land used for wheat production, while stealing 500,000 tons of grain in occupied territories and 1 million tons of grain in elevators under Russia’s control. While in the previous year, Ukraine harvested 106 million tons of grain and oil seed, this year it is predicted to produce 69.4 million tons. This decrease in global grain and oil supply is doubling and tripling market prices, making it unaffordable for many countries, whose critical food supply are these grain imports.
In order to fix this problem, the Grain Deal was signed on July 22, 2022 between Russia, Ukraine, the UN, and Turkey. This deal will allow grain ships to travel safely through the Black Sea and Bosphorus strait in Turkey under the direction of Ukrainian pilots through the Bosphorus strait in North-west Turkey. The vessels were agreed to be inspected by Russian, Ukrainian, and Turkish officials before they arrived in Ukraine. This deal also allows access of Russian fertilizers to the global markets which will further increase food production and decrease grain prices. This grain deal will help return Ukrainian exports to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East which heavily rely on Ukraine to decrease their food insecurities.
Over the past three months since this deal has been formalized, it has been a huge success exporting over 9.5 million tons of wheat, corn sunflower products, rapeseed and barely, while greatly decreasing food prices around the world. However, over the past few weeks Russia has been threatening to leave the deal as it has been unhappy with the results, as the fears of secondary sanctions on Russian fertilizer and grain have stopped Russian exports. Last week, Russia temporarily suspended its participation in the deal after an alleged drone attack on Russian warships by Ukraine in the Black Sea Port of Sevastopol. Russia claimed that its safety could no longer be guaranteed even though the attack was far away from the grain corridor. After intense negotiation Russia has agreed to rejoin the deal. However, the deal is set to end on November 19, 2022. Intense discussion and negotiations are occurring as these countries try to renew the Black Sea grain deal, however, the world is watching to see if Russia will agree to renew the deal, and what new terms the deal will have to convince Russia to stay in the deal which is protecting global prices of grain supply and affecting the food security of millions of people globally.