GLOBAL – The World Food Programme (WFP) boss David Beasley has warned that failure to renew the black sea initiative would be catastrophic to millions in Africa who are on the cusp of famine.
Brokered in July 2022, the deal allows exports from Ukraine of grain, other foodstuffs, and fertilizer to resume through a safe maritime humanitarian corridor from three key Ukrainian ports to the rest of the world.
By early February 2023, more than 715 voyages had successfully left Ukrainian ports carrying over 20 million tonnes of grain and other food products.
The agreement was further extended by a further 120 days in November and is up for renewal again in March, but Russia has signaled it is unhappy with some aspects of the deal and has asked for sanctions affecting its agricultural exports to be lifted.
However, negotiations will start in a week on extending the trade agreement, a senior Ukrainian official has revealed.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, David Beasley said that the initiative’s current grain flows were still not sufficient to meet the needs of poorer countries.
According to Beasley, with all the crises we are facing around the world with climate change, droughts, and flash floods, we can’t afford the Black Sea Grain initiative to fall through at all.
Beasley added that the current flow of goods and grains, which according to U.N. data has benefited the European Union, China, and Turkey especially, was currently nowhere near where it needs to be.
In addition, he warned Moscow that shutting down the ports would be catastrophic, notably in Africa, where millions of people are facing famine.
“Africa is very fragile right now and fifty million people (are) knocking on famine’s door,” Barsely said.
He stressed that the corridor is critical to cushion food prices, fuel costs, debt inflation, and the impacts of Covid-19, which economies are yet to recover from three years down the line.
‘The people have no more coping capacity and if we don’t get in and get costs down then 2024 could be the worst year we have seen in several hundred years,” Beasley lamented.