Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Fertilizer Shipments Bound for Africa - UN

FILE - Farm employees spread fertilizer on a farm in Gerdau, North West province, South Africa, Nov. 19, 2018.
FILE - Farm employees spread fertilizer on a farm in Gerdau, North West province, South Africa, Nov. 19, 2018.

After a first shipment of Russian fertilizer blocked in European ports heads for Malawi next week, a second batch should go to West Africa, the United Nations said Friday.

The news follows talks between Moscow and the U.N. this week aimed at ensuring that vital Russian fertilizer exports are not snagged by the Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine, in a bid to ease the global food insecurity crisis.

While hailing a positive step, Rebeca Grynspan, head of the U.N.'s trade and development agency who was closely involved in the talks, said more was needed to avert a global fertilizer shortage.

"Now we have a model that is working," Grynspan told reporters in Geneva.

"WFP is the one in charge of taking the fertilizer from the ports to the countries that need the fertilizer,” she added.

Currently, around 300,000 metric tons of Russian fertilizer are blocked in different European ports, but efforts are under way to get it to countries in need.

The UN's World Food Program is facilitating the shipment of 260,000 tons of fertilizer, which is being considered as a humanitarian donation by Uralchem/Uralkali, Grynspan said.

The first boatload of 20,000 tons of Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium (NPK) is currently being loaded onto a WFP-chartered vessel.

It should sail from the Netherlands on Monday, bound for Malawi via a port in Mozambique, she said.

The second shipment should be heading to the other side of Africa, Grynspan said.

"We hope that the next destination of the fertilizers will be West Africa," which has been badly hit by the crisis, the former vice-president of Costa Rica said.

An agreement to ensure Russia's fertilizer exports were exempt from sanctions was first reached in July, in parallel with a deal aimed at ensuring exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the UN and Turkey and signed in July largely fixed that problem.

It was due to expire on Saturday but was extended for a second 120-day period on Thursday.

"We are really very pleased on the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. It is very good news for the world, for the food insecurity crisis," said Grynspan.

Ukraine is one of the world's top grain producers, and the Russian invasion in February had blocked 20 million tons of grain in its ports until a safe passage deal was agreed.