A historic agreement with Russia has seen the first ship carrying grain leave a Ukrainian port.
The ship reportedly departed the southern port of Odesa early on Monday morning local time, according to Turkish and Ukrainian officials.
Despite a pact reached by the two parties to begin exports, Russia has been blocking Ukrainian ports since February.
The agreement is expected to relieve the world food crisis and bring down grain prices.
In a statement released before to the ship’s departure, Turkey stated that the ship, which was sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone, would land in Lebanon and that more shipments were scheduled for the upcoming weeks.
The ship was carrying about 26,000 tonnes of maize, according to the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), which was established in Istanbul as part of the agreement. It was scheduled to arrive in Turkish seas for inspection on Tuesday.
Alexander Kubrakov, Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, said on Facebook that “Today Ukraine, together with allies, takes another step to avoid world famine.”
“Unlocking ports will provide the economy at least $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings and give the agriculture industry a chance to plan for the next year.”
In the upcoming weeks, 16 additional ships will be waiting to sail from Odesa Region ports, Mr. Kubrakov noted.
The agreement struck last month, which was mediated by the UN and Turkey, took two months to negotiate and is expected to last 120 days. If both parties concur, it may be renewed.
A worldwide food crisis has resulted from the embargo of Ukraine’s grain, with the price of wheat-based goods like bread and pasta rising along with the cost of cooking oils and fertiliser.
In accordance with the provisions of the agreement, Russia has pledged not to attack ports while supplies are in route, and Ukraine has committed to using its navy boats to direct cargo ships through mined waterways.
To alleviate Russian concerns about weapons smuggling, Turkey will check ships with UN backing.
Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdenny ports in southern Ukraine are anticipated to be the main hubs for exports.
But less than a day after it was revealed that Russia had fired two missiles towards the port of Odessa, the agreement was upended.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, claimed that the strike demonstrated that Moscow could not be relied upon to uphold the agreement.