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Ukrainian grain exports resume as deal with Russia takes effect

A ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday for the first time since the Russian invasion began.

Ministers from the two countries originally reached agreements with Turkey and the United Nations in Istanbul on July 22, requiring Russia to unblock Ukraine's Black Sea ports and allowing Russia to export grain and fertilizer. The future of the deal looked doubtful after Russia launched a missile strike on Odessa the following day, but the deal appears to have held.

The Associated Press reports that the cargo ship Razoni is carrying more than 26,000 tons of corn to Lebanon. At that rate, it would take over 800 trips to clear out the 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have accumulated in Black Sea ports since late February.

News of the ship's departure sent wheat and corn prices into decline — welcome news in the midst of a global food crisis that has put at least 44 million people at risk of famine. According to The Wall Street Journal, prices of both commodities are close to their start-of-year levels. In late April, corn was up more than 37 percent, while wheat peaked at a price increase of over 65 percent in early March and mid-May.

In 2020, Russia and Ukraine were the world's first- and fifth-largest exporters of wheat, respectively.