There has been a cautious welcome to the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, first agreed by Russia and Ukraine in July of this year.

The initiative allows the export of grain from ports in Ukraine and has been extended for 120 days.

Commenting on this development a representative from the Irish Grain and Feed Association (IGFA) indicated that the future of the initiative had been uncertain for a number of weeks in October.

A spokesperson for IGFA said: “This created real concern for our sector. The availability of product from this region is vital, not just for the Irish and European industries, but for many countries where food security is a critical concern.

“The deal has allowed more than 11Mt of cereals and oilseeds from Ukraine to be exported since August and keeping this flow of exports will be particularly important during the winter months.

“It is imperative that everything possible is done to limit any disruption in supply. We therefore also welcome recent EU commitments to invest in improvements to the EU-Ukraine ‘Solidarity Lanes’ and to make them as efficient as possible.

“With so much political uncertainty it is really important to ensure that every means possible is available to Ukraine to export its agricultural and other goods.”

Black Sea Grain Initiative

Russia announced on October 29 that it would suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative to export agricultural produce from Ukrainian ports. The initial deal was backed by the UN and Turkey.

It was agreed in late July and was due to expire on November 19. Many feared this would happen, because in the weeks running up to the end of October, there were significant rumblings from Moscow and claims that the agreement was disproportionately benefitting the EU.

On November 2, Russia did a ‘U-turn’ and reversed the suspension of the agreement after talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders.

Russia said that guarantees it had received on the functioning of the agreement were adequate to allow the resumption of the deal.

There have been a lot of negotiations behind the scenes over the past few weeks and although there is no detailed information available yet on the exact terms, it is expected that there will be some adjustments to the original deal on Russian fertilisers and measures to ensure grain from Ukraine reaches countries with significant food security challenges.

The Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association (NIGTA) has welcomed this week’s developments.

The organisation’s CEO, Gill Gallagher, confirmed that an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative would ease supply concerns over the coming months.

Ukraine traditionally represents an important source of maize for Irish feed compounders during the first four months of a normal calendar year.