Around 720,000 tonnes of food have left Ukraine under grain export deal
KYIV, Aug 23 (Reuters) - A total of 33 cargo ships carrying around 719,549 tonnes of foodstuffs have left Ukraine under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to unblock Ukrainian sea ports, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.
The Joint Coordination Centre in Turkey that monitors implementation of the agreement put the total amount of grain and foodstuffs exported from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports since the deal was reached at 721,449 tonnes.
Ukraine's grain exports slumped after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24 and blockaded its Black Sea ports, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.
Three Black Sea ports were unblocked under the deal signed on July 22 by Moscow and Kyiv.
In addition to the vessels that have already left Ukraine, the agriculture ministry said a further 18 were now loading or waiting for permission to leave Ukrainian ports.
The ministry said Ukrainian grain exports could reach 4 million tonnes in August, compared with 3 million tonnes in July.
In a separate statement, the ministry said exports of key Ukrainian agricultural commodities had fallen by almost half since the start of the Russian invasion compared to the same period in 2021. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and by Jonathan Spicer in Istanbul, Editing by Timothy Heritage and David Evans)
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