The international community is facing a challenge of possibly fatal consequences: how to get 20 million tonnes of grain out of Ukraine before famine sweeps the world.
Ukraine, sometimes referred to as Europe’s breadbasket, is a major exporter of wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil, food products that are essential for many developing countries.
Before Russia launched its brutal invasion, Ukraine was able to export up to 6 million tonnes of grains per month, the majority of which was shipped from the port in Odesa.
But access to the Black Sea is now completely restricted by the presence of the Russian navy, effectively blocking Ukraine’s main trade route.
Exports from the country have dramatically plunged, while storage is nearly at maximum capacity. The sudden loss of Ukrainian products has sent food prices to record highs, putting low-income countries under enormous financial strain and raising fears of new migration waves.
The war “threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity, followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has warned.
The EU and the US, in coordination with the UN, are now working on plans to get 20 million tonnes of grain out of Ukraine by the end of July in order to free space for the summer harvest.
The four options on the table involve Odesa, Romania, Poland and Belarus. But all of them pose significant security risks and entail complex logistics.
Vladimir Putin has expressed his willingness to cooperate but only if Western sanctions are lifted.
Watch the video above to discover the four ways to export grains from Ukraine amid the war.