KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukraine’s grain has been moving to global markets, but it’s unlikely in the near term that the Black Sea Grain Initiative with Russia would be expanded to include more ports or reduce inspection times, Reuters reported through its interview with the United Nations aid chief in Ukraine. 

Ukraine has called for an expansion of the deal with Russia, which was mediated by the UN and Turkey in July. It allows Ukraine, a major global grain exporter, to ship food products from three of its Black Sea ports despite Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. The deal was renewed for 120 days at the end of November.

“I think it would be great if it could be expanded, the more grain that gets out into the world, the better clearly from our point of view, from the world’s point of view,” said Martin Griffiths, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, during his interview with Reuters in Kyiv. “But I don’t think that’s immediately likely.” 

Based on the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukraine now is expected to export 4.2 million tonnes of grain in the next four months, up from 1.8 million tonnes in a previous estimate by the US Department of Agriculture. The USDA said it now expects in 2022-23 that Ukraine will export 15.1 million tonnes of wheat, 2.8 million tonnes of barley and 20.2 million tonnes of corn.

Griffiths said he was not mediating during his visit but was strictly in Ukraine to review the humanitarian aid program while visiting the southern cities of Mykolaiv and recently liberated Kherson.

Griffiths said negotiations for resuming exports of Russian ammonia via Ukraine are continuing, but an agreement was not imminent. Ammonia, which is used to make fertilizer, would be pumped through an existing pipeline to the Black Sea. The pipeline was shut down when Russia invaded Ukraine.