In mid-August a ship chartered by the World Food Program, or WFP, left the Ukrainian port of Odessa carrying 23,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat. It is the first shipment of Ukrainian wheat supported by USAID, along with the Howard Buffett Foundation and the Minderoo Foundation.
“This first-of-its-kind shipment will support the humanitarian response in places with acute needs, including the Horn of Africa, where a historic drought is pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation,” said USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman. The sheer scale of the hunger crisis is immense, she said.
“That’s why we’ve announced $68 million in additional funding for the UN World Food Program to purchase, move, and store up to 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat to support ongoing emergency food assistance in countries facing severe food crises. This funding will support several more WFP maritime shipments out of Ukraine.”
USAID is also actively exploring other options to expand emergency food operations in countries impacted most severely by the food security crisis.
“We’ve launched a new $100 million resilience initiative for agriculture in Ukraine, and we’re working on freeing up critical food supplies trapped in – not only in the ports, but moving them out through land routes.”
“We’ve worked very hard to get Ukrainian grain back to market,” said State Department’s Head of the Office of Sanctions Coordination Ambassador Jim O’Brien. Up to one half of the wheat that WFP distributes to those in need comes from Ukraine. And by purchasing Ukrainian wheat, the WFP signals to Ukrainian farmers that their single largest customer over the last five years is back buying their wheat.
That said, we reiterate that despite the heavy sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine, “We do not sanction Russian food and fertilizer,” said Ambassador O’Brien.
“Our goal of seeing Russia remain an important provider, I think that is in fact what is happening. And what we are trying to do is to be sure that the countries across the globe who rely upon Russia for grain are able to get access to it.”
“We are responding at scale and speed to help those most in need,” said USAID Deputy Administrator Coleman, “but far more resources are needed, and this will truly have to be a global response.”