Logistics could still pose a major challenge despite Russia, Ukraine deal to restore grain exports: Agri SA

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Agri SA says while the deal between Russia and Ukraine to re-open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports is crucial in ensuring food security, logistical issues could still pose a major challenge.

The aim of the deal is to restore Ukrainian grain exports and ease Russian grain and fertiliser shipments.

South Africa imports about 30% of its grain from Ukraine.

Agri SA executive director, Christo van der Rheede, says while the deal is good news for South Africans, the food prices may not reach pre-conflict levels anytime soon.

“Your petroleum, diesel, petrol price still remains high and then, shipping costs are another big issue. We’ve seen tremendous highs in the price of shipping costs and packaging costs. All of those things add to the price of basic products such as wheat and so forth. We keep our fingers crossed.”

“South Africa is still in a very good position. We’ve had very good rains, summer rain for areas … more farmers are planting wheat. So that’s also good news for South Africa,” adds Van der Rheede.

Below is the full interview:

Ukraine and Russia seal grain deal

Russia and Ukraine signed a landmark deal on Friday to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports and ease an international food crisis while the United States pledged more military support five months into the invasion.

The White House announced fresh support of around $270 million to Kyiv, including $100 million for drones, and is also doing preliminary work on whether to send fighter aircraft, although it said that would not happen in the near term.

Fighting rages on in Ukraine’s east. In a sign of how far away peace remains, Russian and Ukrainian representatives declined to sit at the same table and avoided shaking hands at the grain agreement ceremony in Istanbul.

Friday’s deal means around $10 billion worth of grain will be available for sale with roughly 20 million tons of last year’s harvest that can now be exported, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

But on the wider conflict, he told the Wall Street Journal there could be no ceasefire without retaking lost lands.

“Society believes that all the territories must be liberated first, and then we can negotiate about what to do and how we could live in the centuries ahead,” he said.

There have been no major breakthroughs on the front lines since Russian forces seized the last two Ukrainian-held cities in eastern Luhansk province in late June and early July.

Kyiv hopes that its gradually increasing supply of Western arms, such as US High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), will allow it to recapture lost territories.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday its forces had destroyed four HIMARS systems between July 5-20.-Additional reporting by Reuters

The video below is reporting on the agreement: