First ship carrying Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa port

The bulk carrier Razoni starts its way from the port in Odesa, Ukraine, on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. /AP Photo

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain has set off from the port of Odesa, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said on Monday.

The Razoni cargo ship, under the flag of Sierra Leone, with 26,000 tons of Ukrainian corn aboard, leaves the port in Odessa region, Ukraine on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. /Ukrainian Infrastucture Ministry Press Office via AP

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship, Razoni, left the port of Odesa for Lebanon. Its departure is the result of an internationally brokered deal that is expected to release large stores of Ukrainian crops to foreign markets and ease a growing hunger crisis.

A statement from the United Nations said that the Razoni was carrying over 26,000 tons of corn.

Before arriving in Lebanon, the ship will first stop in Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected, before being allowed to proceed.

Lebanon, according to the World Bank, is in the grips of one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years. A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut destroyed grain silos there, a part of which collapsed following a weeks-long fire, just last Sunday.

“Today Ukraine, together with partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger,” said Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure. He said it would also help Ukraine.

“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.

The Turkish Ministry statement pointed out that other ships would also depart from Ukraine’s ports through the safe corridors in line with deals signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.

Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN clearing the way for Ukraine— one of the world’s key breadbaskets— to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of its current conflict with Russia. The agreements also allow Russia to export grain and fertilisers.