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Black Sea Grain Deal and its Collapse: A Potential Threat to Global Food Supplies

by The Business Pinnacle
0 comment

Russia recently announced that it is pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal, raising fears over global food supplies. The country withdrew from the deal citing the forfeiture of meaning to the agreement. “The continuation of the ‘grain deal’ – which did not justify its humanitarian purpose – has lost its meaning,” Putin said. So what exactly is the Black Sea grain deal and why is it important?

The Black Sea Grain Deal

The Black Sea grain initiative was made in July 2022 between the UN, Turkey, and Russia to confirm that Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbasket, could make sure that its grains could leave the southern ports through the Bosphorus. The grain could not be exported in the quantities required using alternative methods of rail or road through Poland or by canal and river through Romania.  Turkey was involved in the deal mainly because of the close relationship between Erdogan and Putin as well as because of the Montreux Convention which was signed in 1936.


The Black Sea grain deal allows for commercial fertiliser and food from three important Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea-Chornomorsk, Pivdennyi, and Odesa. By avoiding the mined areas, the Ukrainian vessels guide cargo ships into the international waters of the Black Sea.

After this, the vessels then move to Istanbul along the agreed maritime humanitarian corridor. The cargo ships that were having their passage through the Ukrainian ports are inspected by a team of Russian, UN, Turkish, and Ukrainian inspectors. Along with this, a separate agreement was also signed to reduce the impact of the restrictions imposed on Russian fertiliser and food.

Was it successful?  

Nearly 33 million metric tonnes of grain were left from Ukraine’s port in the year till July. The World Food Programme bought more than 700,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain which were then shipped to places like Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Out of the 33 million metric tonnes of grains left from Ukraine, about 61% have gone to low and middle-income countries, says the UK. And because of all this, the price of grain stabilised at $800 per tonne, plunging from an earlier rate of $1,360. So even if the wealthier countries were buying the wheat, the extra supply was depressing the general prices they were paying.

Why did Russia Withdraw?

Russia had earlier complained that the country is being limited from exporting its own food and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov cited the same reason for coming out of the Black Sea grain deal. Russian President Vladimir Putin also mentioned that the main objective of the deal which was supplying grain to countries in need has not realised completely and has trouble exporting its own food.

According to reports, Russian food exports are higher than last year and are exporting plenty out of Novorossiysk.  Peskov stated that Russia is open to reviving the deal in the future, saying that Russia will comply “as soon as the Russian part (of the deal) is completed.” Efforts are made by the UN secretary general António Guterres to meet Putin’s demands.


The West concedes that grain exports to the least developing countries were not happening at the desired rate. There had been an export drop, in terms of wheat, of 11.8 million metric tonnes in 2022, which is equal to the annual wheat consumption of 175 million people. For barley and corn, the export gap is 82% and 41% respectively compared to the previous year’s level. Nearly 8 metric tonnes were exported to China and 44% of the total exports were to high-income countries.

A Potential Threat to Global Food Supplies

The deal was very important for stabilising global food prices and thereby bringing relief to the developing countries which depend on Ukrainian exports.  


Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal could hurt global food supplies. In the withdrawal from the pact, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that its government was removing guarantees for safe navigation in the Black Sea. The UN official stated that their organisation’s main concern would be the inevitable human suffering that will result from the deal’s termination. “There is simply too much at stake in a hungry and hurting world.” Zelensky stated that the decision would endanger the lives of nearly 400 million people in many countries that depend on Ukrainian food exports. The situation might be worse for Asia and Africa.  

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