Russia says it shipped 200,000 tonnes of free grain to six African countries

By Thomson Reuters Feb 20, 2024 | 5:06 PM

(Reuters) – Russia’s agriculture minister said late on Tuesday that Moscow had completed its initiative of shipping 200,000 metric tonnes of free grain to six African countries, as promised by President Vladimir Putin in July.

Russia shipped 50,000 tonnes each to Somalia and the Central African Republic and 25,000 tonnes each to Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and Eritrea, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev told Putin during a meeting, according to transcript on the Kremlin’s website.

Putin had promised to deliver free grain to the six countries at a summit with African leaders in July, soon after Moscow withdrew from a deal that had allowed Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports despite the war Russia has been waging.

The deal, known as the Black Sea grain initiative, had helped lower prices on the global market. But Putin argued it was failing to get supplies to the countries in most urgent need.

“After the Russia-Africa summit, we have been maintaining relations (with African countries and building cooperation,” Patrushev told Putin. “As a result, we were able to deliver this volume of wheat to these countries quite quickly.”

He also told Putin that Russia expects to export up to 70 million metric tonnes of grain in the 2023-2024 agricultural year. In the previous season, Russia shipped 66 million tonnes worth almost $16.5 billion, he added.

The 2023-2024 agricultural year started July 1, 2023, and lasts until June 30, 2024.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Josie Kao)