A Glance to Black Sea Grain Initiative: Results of First Year


By Arda Akgül

It has been over a year since the war began between Russia and Ukraine. More than 60.000 people have died, and so as injured people are. The infrastructure and economy of both countries have suffered severe damage. Cities are collapsed, people are moved from their homeland, and war’s consequence is likely to be more serious. The war has not only escalated regional tension but has also had broader implications, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union support Ukraine, while Russia aims to make its influence bigger and national interests exist. The war can be considered as a threat to global security, as it could lead to a wider conflict between Russia and the West. War is supposed to be a huge factor that affects population of belligerants’ life, however, it is not only native people, it is a problem all around the world. Thus, it is easy to indicate that the countries and organizations all around the world work to find a solution and end the violence and/or its consequences as soon as possible.

Ukraine is known as a producer of grain as World’s 7th while Russia is 4th, as of 2021.1 These countries’ total production of grain is about to be 100 million tons. Grain is a vital food source for numerous countries, particularly those with low incomes and food insecurity. Therefore, any disruptions in grain supplies can pose significant threats to global food security and stability. Ukraine’s grain production and export have been affected by Russia’s attack on the Black Sea region that led to a complete pause on the transportation of grain by the Black Sea, where 45 million tonnes of grain is exported from Ukrainian ports to the global market every year. [1] However, conflicts between Russia and Ukraine in late February 2022 made an impact on the exports, so they are severely disrupted as shipswere not able to follow a safe way to and from Ukrainian ports because of mined areas. Another essential good, which was supposed to be exported but never had been according to the UN, that had been affected was as important as food, it was fertilizer, which is vital in the field of agriculture as it maintains soil and crop yields, especially forgrain crops.

As a result, Ukraine faces a double threat of food insecurity and a crisis in the economy. Additionally, the situation holds importance for other countries relying on Ukraine’s grain exports. They may encounter higher prices, reduced quality, and limited access to grain, potentially leading to shortages and humanitarian crises in certain regions of the world.

To solve this problem, discussions on a safe way for grains began with support of Türkiye [2]. As a result, the United Nations and Türkiye agreed to establish a safe maritime corridor in the Black Sea. Black Sea GrainInitiative, or Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports as its official name, was a “beacon of hope”, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated at the signing ceremony on July 27th, 2023 in Istanbul. [3] The reason why Guterres made a statement on Black Sea Grain Initiative would be a call to two sides of war, to find a common way to make what war causes as less as possible. So, three Ukrainian ports,Chornomorsk, Odesa, and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi, were used in order to import goods. Black Sea Grain Initiativeenabled the delivery of goods to all around the world sea routes that were blocked or unsafe. Black Sea Grain Initiative not only helped to solve the suffering of the people in need but also strengthened the cooperation and diplomatic relations between Türkiye, Russia, and Ukraine, as well as the international community. To monitor the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) was established. In the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Centre are representatives from Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Nations. The joint coordination center shows how the initiative’s objectives are being carried out and offers nations and organizations a forum for open communication and information exchange. 

Source: United Nations Black Sea Grain Initiative Vessel Movements

As of July 2023, over 30 million tonnes of grain, including corn, wheat, sunflower and other goods, have been exported under the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The majority of the wheat, about 65 percent, was exported to developing countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, and Pakistan where it is a fundamental food for many people, while corn is portioned equally, about to be half by half. If it is pointed out that 19% of global caloric intake is caused by wheat consumption, economic results should be thought of as well (FAO, 2021). In seekingstable prices and supply, Black Sea Grain Initiative reduced wheat prices about %7.9 by letting more grains enter the market (Poursina et al., 2023). About 33 million tons of food goods had been transported from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports to 45 nations across three landmasses, according to UN News, about a year after the agreement was reached. The partial return of Ukrainian maritime trades stated a possibility by the Initiative had unblocked essential food supplies and helped to reduce the increase in global food prices, which reached all-time highs. Over the past year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index has been decreasing month by month, decreasing more than 23% from its peak in March 2022, when the Russia-Ukraine War effects have been realized in the World, especially in terms of market prices. The Black Sea Grain Initiative permitted the World Food Program (WFP) to transport more than 725,000 tons of wheat to assist individuals in require in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. More than half of the World Food Programme’s wheat grain in 2022 as was the case in 2021 provided by Ukraine. As can be observed, the Food Price Index has been decreasing since the Agreement was signed in July 2022. It could be pointed out as the success of the agreement.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


On July 17th, 2023, Russia declared that Russia will not be a participant in the Agreement, and Russia had alwaysstated that it is always right to opt out of this initiative. Russia’s approach to this initiative was eligible at the beginning since grain prices are increasing.

As we can see from Russia’s statements, it can be understood that initiative was agreed, executed, and had been implemented in a difficult and delicate way. The reason for Russia’s reluctance to sign the initiative was Russia’s economy and sales of agricultural products and the fact that the products were going to more developed countries and not to poorer ones. The United Nations has stated that exports to any country help to calm global markets and reduce food price inflation. [4] After the declaration and demands that include reconnection of one of the Russian banks to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), lifting the ban of Russia’s enter to some ports, of Russia, countries try to find a way to continue Black Sea Grain Initiative, which can contribute 220.000 tonnes grain export if it continues, which can make grain prices less. [5]

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is a rare example of cooperation if it is taken as a cooperation that has significant implications for global food security, while Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters.

Also, dialogue among countries involved in a conflict’s way to solve it, and “one of the most important reconciliations after prisoner exchange subject” according to Erdoğan, President of Türkiye. In order to reduce obstacles preventing access to the Black Sea, it was intended to solve both the issues about global food security and problems in region. With a war that is still raging, Black Sea Grain Initiative and deep cooperation had been an inevitable necessity. However, Russia’s question marks and demands, which are keys for Russia’s return to Agreement if they expectations would be met by West, resulted in the end of the initiative, in uncertain war that has economic results around the World.


[1] World Bank Open Data. Cereal production (metric tons) (n.d.). fromhttps://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.PRD.CREL.MT?most_recent_value_desc=true

[2]     United Nations (2023, June 30). Note to correspondents on the agreements to facilitate exports of agricultural products from the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Retrieved August 3, 2023, from https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/note-correspondents/2023- 06-30/note-correspondents-the-agreements-facilitate-exports-of-agricultural-products-therussian-federation-and-ukraine

[3] United Nations (n.d.). Beacon on the Black Sea. Black Sea Grain Initiative | Joint Coordination Centre | United Nations. Retrieved August 3, 2023, from https://www.un.org/en/black-sea-grain-initiative

[4]     (United Nations. (2023, July 13). Karadeniz Tahıl Girişiminin Bir Yılı | Türkiye’de Birleşmiş Milletler. United Nations. https://turkiye.un.org/tr/239465-karadeniz-tah%C4%B1l- giri%C5%9Fiminin-bir-y%C4%B1l%C4%B1)

[5]     Karadeniz Tahıl Girişimi, dünya için en güvenli ve en düşük maliyetli seçenek (2023, September 2). Anadolu Ajansı. Retrieved September 4, 2023, from https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/ekonomi/karadeniz-tahil-girisimi-dunya-icin-en-guvenli-ve-en-dusuk-maliyetli-secenek/2981562

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