Aug 2, 2022
Ukraine resumes grain shipments amid global food shortages Transcript
A cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain set sail from Odesa for the first time since Russia’s invasion more than five months ago. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
For the first time since February, Ukraine is again exporting food. A cargo ship left the port city of Odessa this morning, after a deal was struck with Russia. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest providers of wheat, corn, and sunflower oil, but a Russian blockade and targeting of Ukraine’s agricultural infrastructure has jeopardized global food security. Special correspondent Volodymyr Solohub reports.
Volodymyr Solohub: (00:31)
It is the sound of hope for millions around the world desperately in need of food. The cargo ship Razoni left Odessa this morning with 26,000 metric tons of corn. It sailed through Ukrainian minefield and was given safe passage through the Russian blockade. The landmark moment was hailed by both Ukraine and Russia.
Speaker 3: (00:55)
The port has started working. The export traffic has started and it can be called the first positive signal that there is a chance to stop the development of the food crisis in the world.
Volodymyr Solohub: (01:07)
And in Moscow, by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Speaker 4: (01:12)
The fact of this first ship is very positive news. It’s a good opportunity to test what was agreed during talks and Istanbul.
Volodymyr Solohub: (01:20)
The Istanbul talks resulted in a break through 10 days ago after weeks of negotiations, brokered by the UN and implemented with Turkey’s help. UN secretary channel, Antonio Guterres.
Antonio Guterres: (01:32)
What we have witnessed today in Odessa is an important starting point. It must be the first of many commercial ships bringing relief and stability to global food markets.
Volodymyr Solohub: (01:42)
But there are millions of tons of food trapped because the blockade has lasted so long. It’s wheat harvesting season in Ukraine. Vitaliy Shtefan owns and farms more than a thousand acres of land in Kharkiv region in Ukraine’s Northeast and grows wheat on half of it. In the early days, the war came very close to his farm.
Speaker 6: (02:09)
Usually we harvest 600 tons of wheat, but this year we won’t have that much. Because of the war, the Russians were just 10 miles away. We had shortages of fertilizers, so our harvest will be smaller this year.
Volodymyr Solohub: (02:21)
With the war raging just a few miles down the road, local farmers are doubtful that they will be able to sell their grain anytime soon. Before the war, Vitaliy sold most of his wheat to grain traders for export. Now with seaports blocked, he has no buyers.
Speaker 6: (02:41)
We’re in a hopeless situation. We have nowhere to take the grain to, just nowhere. And no one’s buying it. And even if they are buying it, it’s at a very low cost.
Volodymyr Solohub: (02:52)
The broken supply chain is not the only challenge. With the war raging just around the corner, many of the Ukrainian farmers are harvesting at their own risk. And for this farmer in Kharkiv region, the risk was too high. His harvester hit an unexploded ordinance. Anatoliy, a farmer in the neighboring [inaudible 00:03:12] region is locked here. He built grain silos just last year and was hoping to rent it out to other farmers, but right now he’s only using it for his own grain.
Speaker 7: (03:27)
I’m not sure that those farmers that are selling their grain at discounted prices this year will be able to do farming next year. Not because they don’t want to, but because they won’t have money to farm.
Volodymyr Solohub: (03:39)
Anatoliy has been farming land for the last 30 years, but he’s never experienced anything like this. And the fact that he might lose this year’s harvest is the least of his concerns.
Speaker 7: (03:53)
It’s painful to think that those criminals won’t pay for what they are doing. So it is our mission to do everything to overcome this, to win the war, and for those who started it to be held accountable.
Volodymyr Solohub: (04:05)
But if more ships don’t leave the seaport soon, much of this vital commodity might go to waste because farmers have no place to store it. For the PBS news hour, I’m Volodymyr Solohub in Kharkiv region Ukraine.