The United Nations will attempt to get warring foes Ukraine and Russia to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative for a year, while also looking at ways to streamline the way ships are inspected amid a growing congestion problem at the three ports designated in the transport pact .
The grain agreement, brokered by the UN and Türkiye to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi was initially concluded for 120 days and expires towards the end of next month. Around 7m tonnes of grain has been moved in the opening weeks since the parties signed on to the initiative.
The UN is anxious to cut back the lengthy inspection process of each ship heading out of the Black Sea with vessel traffic services detecting queues of around 120 vessels waiting to enter and exit Ukraine’s Black Sea ports this week. Ship inspections are now taking 10 to 15 days due to a shortage of inspectors. In August the average time spent inspecting ships was four days.
The need for greater volumes of grain to be exported from Ukraine, a powerhouse producer, is becoming ever more urgent.
By the end of the 2022-23 crop year, the world’s buffer stocks of corn will be enough for just 80 days’ worth of consumption, down 28% from five years ago and the lowest level since 2010-11, according to the International Grains Council (IGC).