The top UN trade official said on Friday that a shipment of Russian fertilizer was due to leave a Norwegian port on Monday bound for Malawi, helping to ease a backlog of 300,000 tonnes of agricultural products currently in European ports.
Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Rebeca Grynspan, said the shipment was good news as it will help address shortages world food markets and comes a day after the announcement of the extension of the Black Sea Grains Agreement.
The initial deal, reached on July 22, unblocked shipments of 11 million tonnes of grain and foodstuffs from Ukraine and helped mitigate rising global food prices. The initiative established a safe shipping lane in the Black Sea and inspection procedures to address concerns that cargo ships might be carrying weapons or launching attacks.
The deal was due to expire on Saturday but will now be extended for four months.
Grynspan said that as part of the grain deal, the United Nations reached an agreement with Russia to release its food and fertilizer shipments stuck in European ports. She said the backlog has created shortages and driven up the global price of fertilizer.
She explained that while these shipments were not directly targeted by Western sanctions, many countries have been reluctant to deal with Russia, leaving the shipments blocked.
Grynspan said that as part of the deal, Russia’s Uralchem-Uralkali company donated the overdue fertilizer to UN humanitarian efforts. She said: “A lot had to be done to make this possible, but now we have a model that works. It is a humanitarian activity.
Grynspan said the United Nations World Food Program is responsible for getting fertilizer from European ports to countries that need it. She said she hopes the next shipment will go to West Africa, which she said “has been very affected by the fertilizer affordability crisis.”
Grynspan also said the UN would aim for a longer renewal period for the Black Sea grain deal beyond the agreed 120 days until Thursday.
Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.