Six Ukrainian ships loaded with 335,000t of agricultural produce left Ukraine via ports in Odesa yesterday (Thursday, January 6), under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was recently extended for 120 days.

The shipments were announced in a post on Twitter by Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure, which also stated that another 120 vessels are awaiting inspection in the Bosphorus before they can depart.

However, the ministry added that this inspection and approval process is consistently being delayed by Russia, as it attempts to restrict Ukrainian exports “by any means”.

The announcement of the shipments comes following the departure of nine vessels carrying 432,000t of agricultural produce on January 3. At that time, 95 ships were awaiting inspection, some of which could be waiting for months, according to the ministry.

In the last announcement of a shipment for 2022 on the Twitter page, the ministry confirmed that the vessel NEVA left the port with 25,000t of wheat bound for Somalia under the Grain From Ukraine programme.

The Grain From Ukraine programme was launched on November 26, and is working to bring grain to some of the poorest countries in the world and “save at least five million people from hunger”.

When announcing the scheme, which is supported by multiple government entities and international organisations, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that at least 60 ships are planned to depart Odessian ports under the programme by spring.

“Ukraine, as one of the guarantors of global food security, will continue making its key contribution. Despite the war. Despite any challenges.

“Ukraine will fulfill its export obligations regarding the supply of grain and other foodstuffs to the global market,” the president said.

Some of the countries that have received or are set to welcome shipments as part of the programme are Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan, with others expected to join the list in the coming months.

On the day of the launch, 20 countries joined the initiative, with president of the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen declaring her full support for the programme.

“This sends a very strong signal to the whole world that we will not leave our partners without help.

“You are showing unwavering commitment to global food security, international responsibility and solidarity with those most in need. And we stand by your side,” she stated.