Context: Recently, the Russia said that it would be “inappropriate” to extend the Black Sea grain deal unless sanctions affecting its agricultural exports are lifted and other issues are resolved.
What is Black Sea Grain Initiative?
- Background: Ukraine exports around 45 million tonnes of grain to the global market each year.
- After the Russian invasion, Ukraine was left with large amount of grains stored in silos unable to be transported to other parts of the world. This has affected the global supply of food grains.
- Launch: The Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, also called the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was an agreement between Russia and Ukraine with Turkey and the United Nations (UN) made during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- Signatories: Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and United Nations.
- It sought to create a safe passage of food grains exported from Ukraine.
- Under this agreement, export of grain, food and fertilizers will be allowed to resume from Ukraine via a “safe maritime humanitarian corridor” from three key Ukrainian ports i.e., Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.
- Implementation: A Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) having representatives from signatories of the Black Sea Grain Initiative was set up to implement this deal.
- The JCC is tasked with registering and monitoring the departure of commercial ships via satellite, internet, and other communication means.
- Its primary responsibility is to check for the absence of unauthorized cargo and personnel on board of the vessels.
- The JCC is located on the campus of the National Defense University, about seven kilometers north of the center of Istanbul. The center is headed by a Turkish admiral.
- Brief timeline:
- In July 2022, the signatories have signed the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
- Russia pulled out of this agreement on October 29 due to drone attack on its naval ships in the port of Sevastopol.
- On 2nd November Russia rejoined the agreement following mediation.
- On 17 November 2022, the UN and Ukraine announced that the agreement had been extended for a further 120 days.
Why is the Black Sea Grain Initiative Important?
- Ukraine is among the largest exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, globally.
- Its access to the deep-sea ports in the Black Sea enables it to directly approach Russia and Europe along with grain importers from the Middle East and North Africa.
- The initiative has also been credited for having made a huge difference to the global cost of living crisis.
- Under the pact, some 21.1 million tonnes of agricultural products have been shipped, including 10 million tonnes of corn.
- People hoarding the grain in the hope of selling it for a sizable profit owing to the supply crunch were now obligated to sell.
- Although the initiative alone cannot address global hunger, it can avert the chances of the global food crisis spiralling further, especially when the region is yet to scale prior year levels.