Zelensky invites G20 summit participants to join grain deal
MOSCOW. Nov 15 (Interfax) - Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has called on what he referred to as "the G19 countries to join the grain initiative."
"Thanks to the strong participation of the UN, Turkey and other partners, we have demonstrated how the cooperation of a few can restore food security for the many. I believe our export grain initiative deserves an indefinite extension," Ukrainian media quoted Zelensky as saying in his speech at the Group of Twenty summit by video link on Tuesday.
"Since July, Ukraine has exported over ten million tonnes of food by sea. We can increase exports by several million tonnes per month. To this end, I propose expanding the grain export initiative to our other ports - in particular to the ports of Nikolayev and Olivia in the Nikolayev region," he said.
Zelensky also called on "all countries - and in particular your countries, dear G19 leaders - to join our initiative to help the poorest with food."
"We have already launched this initiative - Grain from Ukraine. And the first vessel - the Nord Vind - is leaving for Ethiopia with 27,000 tonnes of wheat on board. This is the amount that can feed almost 100,000 people a year," he said.
Ukraine may export 45 million tonnes of food products in 2022, Zelensky said.
In his turn, head of Zelensky's Office Andrei Yermak said that the Grain from Ukraine humanitarian program, which was unveiled by the Ukrainian president in his speech at the G20 summit on Tuesday and which will be implemented in partnership with the World Food Program, will help supply grain to at least five million people before the end of spring 2023.
"Its main idea is that countries that participate in this project will buy agricultural products from Ukrainian producers and will transfer them to countries that are on the verge of famine," Ukrainian media quoted Yermak as saying on Telegram.
Ukraine has decided to use a certain amount of wheat initially slated for export for procurement to African countries that are already facing famine problems, he said. Some of these grain exports may be purchased by the project's participants, the official said, adding that in such a way international partners will be able to simultaneously support the Ukrainian economy in its dire situation and help poor African countries.
At Ukraine's initiative, an international famine prevention coordination group set up under the auspices of President Zelensky is starting to operate, Yermak said.
"The international famine prevention coordination group includes representatives of countries' governments, corporations and sponsors able to directly impact the efforts to provide for the food needs of millions of people around the world. I will be in charge of coordinating the program's implementation in line with the president's instruction," he said.
The Nord Vind, carrying 27,000 tonnes of wheat has left for Ethiopia as part of measures taken jointly with the German government and backed by the World Food Program, Yermak said, adding that this amount will be enough to feed almost 100,000 people a year.
If these figures are projected on five million tonnes, it means that at least 1.35 million tonnes of grain will be delivered as part of the Grain from Ukraine program.