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Russian crops, fertiliser must move ‘unimpeded’: UN chief

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Russian fertilisers and agricultural products must be able to reach world markets “unimpeded” or a global food crisis could strike as early as next year, United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday.

“It is important that all governments and the private sector cooperate to bring them to market,” he said from the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC).

The JCC oversees the implementation of the Ukrainian grain export agreement signed in July by Kyiv and Moscow with the UN and Turkey as guarantors.

The agreement also guarantees Russia the right to export its agricultural products and fertilisers despite Western sanctions.

“What we see here in Istanbul and in Odessa is only the more visible part of the solution.

The other part of this package deal is the unimpeded access to the global markets of Russian food and fertiliser, which are not subject to sanctions,” Guterres said, adding that despite this, Russian fertiliser and agricultural exports still faced “obstacles”.

Farmers offload livestock manure from a truck that will be used to fertilise crops due to the increased cost of fertiliser that they say they now can’t afford to purchase in Nairobi. PHOTO: AP

“Without fertiliser in 2022, there may not be enough food in 2023. Getting more food and fertiliser out of Ukraine and Russia is crucial to further calm commodity markets and lower prices for consumers,” he said.

Guterres travelled this week to Ukraine, where he met with the presidents of Ukraine and Turkey, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the western city of Lviv on Thursday.

He headed to the southern city of Odessa on Friday. Earlier Saturday, he visited the first aid ship chartered by the United Nations to transport Ukrainian grain on the southern shores of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara.

The Brave Commander left the Ukrainian port of Pivdenny on Tuesday with 23,000 tonnes of wheat before crossing the Bosphorus on Wednesday evening.

The UN chief vowed on Thursday that his organisation would try to “step up” grain exports from Ukraine before the onset of winter, which are crucial for food supplies in many African countries.

Under the agreement signed in July, 650,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain and agricultural products have left the Ukrainian ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdenny since August 1.

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