Global food crisis in focus as Zelenskyy warns Ukraine harvest could be halved

Warning comes as ships carrying Ukrainian grain ready to set sail under agreement brokered by UN and Turkey

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits a port in Chornomork as grain is loaded on to a Turkish ship. AP
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Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that Ukraine's harvest could be half its usual amount this year due to the Russian invasion.

“Ukrainian harvest this year is under the threat to be twice less,” the Ukrainian president wrote in English on Twitter.

“Our main goal — to prevent global food crisis caused by Russian invasion. Still grains find a way to be delivered alternatively,” he said.

Ukraine is one of the world's most fertile countries and a standstill in the Black Sea has led to soaring food prices and fears that millions will go hungry worldwide.

Russia and Ukraine signed a deal earlier this month to reopen grain and fertiliser exports that have been blocked by the five-month war.

However, optimism over the deal was tarnished less than 24 hours later when Russian missiles hit the port of Odesa, raising doubts about Moscow's commitment to the plan.

The agreement, brokered by Turkey and the UN on July 22, provides for safe passage for ships carrying grain out of three southern Ukrainian ports.

The vessels are due to sail this week and in a bid to safeguard their passage they have been offered up to $50 million in insurance by brokers in London

Insurance market Lloyd's of London, underwriter Ascot and broker Marsh said the scheme would help to ease mounting pressure on global food supplies caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Chris McGill, head of cargo at Ascot, said the new financing was a “bespoke, mission-focused facility” that would help ships to sail through safe corridors from designated Ukrainian ports.

Lloyd's chief of markets Patrick Tiernan said it would “add essential protection” to the deal announced by Turkey and the UN and help address market uncertainty over grain supplies.

Ukraine and Russia sign grain deal — in pictures

Updated: July 31, 2022, 10:11 AM