Ukraine Foreign Minister Reveals Grain for Africa Plan -Wants Cooperation from African Countries

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has promised that his country will do all it can to send more grain to Africa meant to help ease the growing hunger crisis on the continent, despite Kyiv’s own internal crises in the face of a war with Russia.

Speaking to African journalists from Kyiv on Monday November 28, 2022, Via Zoom, Ukraine Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba disclosed that the program is intended to lift at least five million Africans out of the growing food insecurity crisis, which has been worsened by Russia’s invasion of his country.

According to him, Ukraine has held International Summit on Food Security last week with participation of over 20 world leaders. Fundraised is almost $150 million for the program. “The special program called Grain From Ukraine” initiated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi and coordinated by head of his office Andriy Yermak.

Through the program, “Ukraine plans to ship at least 60 large vessels,” Mr. Kuleba said.

According to him Ukraine launched the Grain From Ukraine humanitarian program in November which will provide essential food products to those most vulnerable. Until spring 2023, and they plan to supply at least 5 million people across the African continent as part of this humanitarian effort. This will be possible through the dispatch of 1 to 10 ships per month during 2023.

African countries expected to benefit from the donations include Ethiopia, the Republic of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, amongst others.

“Ukraine has been and remains the world’s top sunflower oil exporter and our grains constitute a large share of world markets. Our agricultural exports are vital for many countries in the African continent. Before the full-scale war, Ukraine supplied more than 15% of the world’s corn exports, 10% of wheat, 15-20% of barley, and more than 50% of sunflower oil” Mr Kuleba said.

“Despite the war in the Country and all the difficulties, we remain committed to maintaining food security in the world” he said.

 Minister Kuleba said he wants to deepen his country’s ties to Africa and expects African Countries to join them in the quest for peace.

See full statement of Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba African Briefing below

AFRICAN BRIEFING ON GRAIN FROM UKRAINE BY FOREIGN MINISTER OF UKRAINE, DMYTRO KULEBA

Dear African friends, dear media, I’m glad to welcome you at our briefing today. We have one topic on the agenda. Food security in your countries and around the globe.

This weekend Ukraine held an International Summit on Food Security with participation of over 20 world leaders, both present in Kyiv and online. The main issue was a special program called Grain From Ukraine initiated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi and coordinated by head of his office Andriy Yermak. Today, I will brief you in detail about this program and how it will practically help your countries and other Ukraine’s partners alleviate the acute food crisis.

You know that Russia keeps waging an aggressive war against Ukraine and we are going through very difficult times right now. But even with all of this in the background we remain committed to maintaining Ukraine’s crucial role as food security guarantor. Ukraine has been and remains the world’s top sunflower oil exporter and our grains constitute a large share of world markets. Our agricultural exports are vital for many countries in the African continent. Before the full-scale war, Ukraine supplied more than 15% of the world’s corn exports, 10% of wheat, 15-20% of barley, and more than 50% of sunflower oil.

There have never been problems with Ukraine’s exports to your countries and customers before February 24th when Russia launched its full-scale invasion. Russia’s naval blockade of our seaports has significantly worsened the food INsecurity in many regions. This added pain to the injury, because the situation had already NOT been good because of the COVID pandemic. Nevertheless, in the summer we launched the Black Sea Grain Initiative, thanks to the efforts of the UN Secretary General and the President of Turkiye. The grain corridor has become a relief, but we still had to fight hard to keep it functional.

Russia’s cynical hunger games have put millions of people at the risk of hunger. And I’m not only talking about the blocking of sea exports. Russia has also inflicted tremendous damage on our agricultural sector by attacking grain storage facilities, occupying them, mining fields, stealing equipment and actually stealing our grain. Despite all of this barbarity, we have managed to yield a harvest and ship grains to foreign customers. Thanks to our brave farmers Ukraine is expected to yield around 55 million tons of grains this year under such terrible circumstances. Since May 2022 we have managed to export 17 million tons of food products abroad.

When I toured African countries in October, food security was the top-priority topic. I assured my African counterparts and their countries: Ukraine remains committed to the Grain Initiative and spares no effort to expand food exports to African countries. We have kept our word. In November, together with partners, we managed to prevent Russia from withdrawing from the initiative. And now, we are making another step to provide even more help to maintain food security.

In November, we launched the Grain From Ukraine humanitarian program under which we will provide essential food products to those most vulnerable. Until spring 2023, we plan to supply at least 5 million people across the African continent as part of this humanitarian effort. This will be possible through the dispatch of 1 to 10 ships per month during 2023.

Now, how does this program work? Ukraine invites partners to join the program and allocate finances for purchasing ships with Ukrainian grain that are then shipped to the most vulnerable people and countries free of charge. More than 20 countries plus the EU already take part. Ukraine itself is also donating money from our war-torn budget. These funds are used to purchase vessels with the Ukrainian grain to ship them to the most vulnerable in Africa and Asia. The mechanism will work in coordination with the UN World Food Program. All of these are not plans, but an established mechanism that has already started working. First ships have already departed.

At the International Food Security Summit this Saturday we had 29 participants, including 26 countries from the EU, NATO and other UN members. We have fundraised almost 150 million dollars for the program right at the summit. This is just the beginning and both the number of participants and the volume of allocated funds will keep growing. 

Overall, Ukraine plans to ship at least 60 large vessels. Primary recipients on our list are Ethiopia, the Republic of Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Yemen, Nigeria, and others.

As part of the effort we have also established the International Hunger Prevention Coordination Group which includes representatives of governments, corporations, as well as philanthropists who can directly impact the food needs of millions of people around the world. The Coordination Group will develop a joint global action roadmap to prevent a worsening of the global food crisis.

Food security is one of ten elements of Ukraine’s peace formula presented by President Zelenskyi at the G20 summit this month. Russia’s war has hit hard not only our country, but countries of Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond. This is why the Grain From Ukraine program is so important. It will help alleviate the acute food insecurity for millions of people across the world.

We are a nation that survived a genocide by starvation in the past. This genocide, called the Holodomor, was perpetrated by Stalin 90 years ago and these days we mark its anniversary and commemorate its victims. This is why feeding the world has a deep meaning to us, Ukranians. We know the horror of hunger and we will not allow anyone in the world to use hunger as a weapon again, in the 21st century. No nation and no person deserves to suffer malnutrition or face limited access to food simply because Russia decided to score political points or launch an aggressive war on one of the world’s top food producers, Ukraine.

I am confident that together we will be able to stabilize the situation and stop Russian hunger games. I call on all African nations to join forces with us and work together on alleviating the food crisis. As I said during my Africa tour in October, Ukrainian-African relations are undergoing a renaissance. We come to Africa with an open heart, ready to work directly and without intermediaries. We don’t want to make friends against anyone, what we want is to build strong bilateral relations with each country based on mutual respect, mutual support, and mutual interests. I am confident that both we and you are interested in this.

Ukraine has a lot to give — from agricultural products and technologies to digital transformation and education. We are happy to share our goods, our experience, our knowledge and count on African partners opening up new business opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors from Ukraine. I am confident the Ukrainian-African renaissance will continue and yield even more results for both Ukraine and African nations.

Now I stand ready to answer some of your questions.

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