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Three ships carrying more than 58,000 tons of corn left Ukrainian ports for Turkey on Friday as part of a UN-brokered deal aimed at distributing grain from the besieged country that was trapped by the Russian military invasion.
Ukraine is one of the world’s leading bread baskets, and the frozen grain stocks there were exacerbating a sharp rise in food prices and increasing fears of a global hunger crisis.
The departure of the ships comes after the first shipment of grain since the war began leaving Ukraine earlier this week. It crossed the Black Sea as part of the wartime revolutionary agreement and passed inspection Wednesday in Istanbul and then headed to Lebanon.
The ships that left Ukraine on Friday – which the Turkish defense ministry says are headed to Turkey for inspection – belong to a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships that had been loaded with grain and blocked in ports since the beginning of the Russian invasion in late February.
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While tens of thousands of tons of grain are coming out with these latest shipments, it is still a fraction of the 20 million tons of grain that Ukraine claims are trapped in the country’s silos and ports and must be shipped in to make. room for this year’s harvest.
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Under the July 22 agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, signed by Russia and Ukraine, ships can leave the ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny with wheat, corn and related food.
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Cereal prices peaked in the first few weeks after the Russian invasion, but some have since fallen to pre-war levels. Corn prices are about 70% above levels seen in late February 2020, before the pandemic, according to Jonathan Haines, senior analyst and data and analytics company, Gro Intelligence. He said wheat prices are currently 63% above the levels seen at the end of February this year when the invasion was launched.
The three ships that left Ukrainian ports are the Turkish-flagged Polarnet, carrying 12,000 tons of corn, which left the Chornomorsk port for Karasu, Turkey. Navi Star flying Panama left the port of Odesa for Ireland with 33,000 tons of corn. According to the United Nations, the Maltese-flagged Rojen left Chornomorsk for the UK carrying over 13,000 tonnes of corn.
Fox News’s Paul Best and the Associated Press contributed to this report.