KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukraine has exported more than 1 million tonnes of grain since Russia lifted its naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on July 22, the United Nations said.

Amir Abdulla, UN coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative, said on Aug. 27 that dozens of grain shipments have taken place over the last month.

“As the world grapples with food insecurity and high prices, the importance of this Initiative is clear,” he said. “As increased volumes of Ukraine’s agricultural production are now heading to market by sea, confidence has grown in the food and shipping industries, driving down prices and reducing risk.

He recalled that while the agreement between Russia and Ukraine, which was brokered by the UN and Turkey, covers commercial operations for the resumption of exports, the World Food Programme (WFP) also has been able to restart purchasing Ukrainian wheat for its humanitarian operations in countries such as Ethiopia and Yemen.

“These are all important first steps but much more needs to be done,” he stressed. “Across the world, high prices in fuel and fertilizer, climate change and conflict are placing immense pressure on farmers and consumers alike and driving millions more into poverty and hunger.”

Abdulla praised the achievement of exporting 1 million tonnes of grain in a month’s time, but said much more grain needs to be exported to make room for the country’s newly harvested grain.

“Equally important and urgent is the export of fertilizer, including ammonia, under this Initiative, so that farmers across the world can continue food production for next year at an affordable cost,” Abdulla said.

Ukraine, a top five producer and exporter of wheat and corn, was unable to ship grain from its Black Sea ports for five months after Russian forces invaded the country on Feb. 24.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service projects 12.5 million tonnes of corn exports and 11 million tonnes of wheat shipments in the 2022-23 marketing year, well below Ukraine’s export total in peak seasons.