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The resumption of grain exports in Ukraine offers hope, but not a solution to the food crisis
The war in Ukraine has threatened food supplies in countries like Lebanon, which has the world's highest rate of food inflation, 122%, and depends on the Black Sea region for almost all of its grain.
The war has trapped 20 million tons of grain inside Ukraine, and the resumption of exports marked a major first step toward feeding millions of poor people who are starving in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.
"This 26,000 tonnes on the scale of 20 million tonnes that have been closed is nothing, absolutely nothing ... but if we start to see that, every shipment that goes in will increase confidence," said Jonathan Haines, senior analyst at the data firm and Gro Intelligence analytics.
The small scale means that initial shipments leaving the world's breadbasket will not lower food prices or alleviate a global food crisis anytime soon.
Plus, most of the grain trapped is for animal feed, not for human consumption, experts say. This will prolong the effects of war for people in countries like Somalia and Afghanistan, where starvation will spread to the masses, making it impossible to make ends meet.
Drought and high fertilizer costs have kept wheat prices more than 50% higher than early 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Ukraine is a major supplier of wheat, barley, corn and sunflower oil to developing countries, it represents only 10% of international wheat trade.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Somalia and other African countries turned to non-traditional grain partners such as India, Turkey and Brazil, but at higher prices.