Earlier this month, thanks to sustained international pressure and diplomacy, Ukrainian grain began to once again move through the Black Sea following a six-month blockade of Ukraine’s ports by Russian forces. Today, thanks to the work of those on the ground, especially our United Nations partners, we’ve reached a breakthrough. In the month of August alone, Ukraine exported a total of over 4 million metric tons (MT) of grain – nearly 1.3 million via the Ports of Odessa, Pivdennyi, and Chornomorsk and 3 million via the EU’s Solidarity Lanes effort.
Of the grain shipments now moving out of the Black Sea, several have gone directly to support humanitarian relief efforts around the world. The first humanitarian grain shipment of 23,000 MT of grain, delivered with support from USAID to the UN World Food Program (WFP), left the Black Sea on August 16 and arrived in Djibouti this week to be distributed in the Horn of Africa. A shipment of WFP food assistance left Ukraine yesterday with USAID support, transporting 37,000 MT of grain from WFP to Turkey, where it will be milled into flour before arriving in Yemen, where over 17 million people are struggling with acute hunger. USAID has also committed to supporting the purchase, movement, and storage of up to 150,000 additional MT of grain by the WFP to help respond to the global food crisis.
Although this is a significant improvement from the widespread disruptions in exports caused by Vladimir Putin’s ongoing, unjustified war against Ukraine, these deliveries only account for about 62 percent of Ukraine’s pre-war monthly export of grain. While this progress is promising, much more will need to be done to restore Ukraine’s capacity to export agricultural commodities to levels seen before the Russian Federation’s full scale invasion. It is essential that parties continue to honor their commitments so that Ukraine’s grain can continue moving onto the global market as it is an essential food source to millions of people hardest hit by the staggering global food crisis facing the world today.
In addition to our support of current grain shipments, USAID is providing vital assistance to the country’s embattled agriculture sector, the bedrock of its economy. On July 19, USAID announced a new $100 million Agriculture Resilience Initiative-Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine) to help address Ukraine’s immediate agricultural export challenges, while simultaneously supporting the sector’s long-term needs. As an initial step, this assistance will provide storage to more than 5,000 businesses in Ukraine, helping cover 1.5 million MT of grain, equivalent to 10 percent of Ukraine's current shortage in storage capacity. AGRI-Ukraine builds on a range of support USAID is providing to Ukraine’s agriculture sector in the wake of Putin’s war, including helping over 12,700 Ukrainian farmers obtain seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and other critical inputs and working with banks, credit unions, and the Government of Ukraine to increase farmers' access to finance.
The United States will continue to work to meet the needs of people around the world who are suffering from a global food crisis exacerbated by the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. Already, we have provided nearly $7.6 billion in assistance to respond to the crisis since the beginning of the war, and we will continue to do all that we can to get assistance to the people who need it most.