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Ukraine dispatches its biggest grain convoy of U.N. deal so far - ministry

Sept 4 (Reuters) - Ukraine said it had dispatched its biggest convoy of grain vessels under a U.N.-brokered deal so far after 13 ships set sail from its ports on Sunday carrying 282,500 tonnes of agricultural products to foreign markets.

The cargo bound for eight countries was loaded at the Black Sea ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi. The ports had been completely blockaded by Russia's invasion until a July 22 deal that was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

Eighty-six ships have since set sail from Ukrainian ports under the deal, carrying 2 million tonnes of agricultural products to 19 countries, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said in a statement on Facebook.

The deal was struck after Ukraine's access to its main export route via the Black Sea was cut when Russia invaded and blockaded Ukraine's ports, prompting a surge in global food prices and fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East.

Ukraine hopes to export 60 million tonnes of grain in eight to nine months, presidential economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said in July, cautioning that those exports could take up to 24 months if ports do not function properly.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Philippa Fletcher)

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