WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced on Aug. 16 that it is contributing $68 million to the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) to purchase, ship and store up to 150,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat to help address the world food crisis.

USAID, in partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Minderoo Foundation, supported the first humanitarian grain shipment to leave the Black Sea via Ukraine’s Yuzhny Port on Aug. 16. The shipment will support the humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa where a historic drought is pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation. This procurement comes just weeks after the UN announced it helped reach an agreement between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey to resume Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea, which had ground to a halt following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s top grain exporters.

Russia’s war against Ukraine has caused food and fuel prices to spike globally and contributed to staggering levels of food insecurity in countries facing life-threatening hunger. USAID said this additional 150,000 tonnes of wheat will support ongoing emergency food assistance in countries facing severe food crises.

“While the resumption of food exports out of Ukraine, after being blocked by Russia for almost six months, is an important first step, these shipments must continue so that the millions of tonnes of grain trapped in the country can reach markets and help feed the most vulnerable,” USAID said. “This freeing of critical food supplies trapped in the Ukrainian ports is crucial, but the sheer scale of the hunger crisis — fueled by wars, the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and extreme weather worsened by climate change — is so immense that this single advance will not solve this crisis.”  

The United States has provided nearly $7.6 billion in assistance to respond to the global food security crisis since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, according to USAID.

Since the agreement was reached to restart grain shipments out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on July 22, more than 500,000 tonnes of grain have been exported, according to the UN.