The first ship carrying Ukrainian wheat as humanitarian aid this year, chartered by the UN World Food Programme organization under the Grain From Ukraine program, departed Ukraine on Feb. 8, Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry reported.
The Sky Gate bulk carrier is shipping 25,000 metric tons of wheat to Nigeria.
The vessel is moving through the temporary Black Sea corridor. The shipping route was opened in August 2023, weeks after Russia's unilateral termination of the Black Sea grain deal threatened Ukraine's ability to ship out its grain.
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said in January that since then, more than 15 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain have been exported from three ports in and around Odesa.
The Grain From Ukraine program was initiated in November 2022 and is implemented jointly with the UN World Food Programme and donor countries.
In the first year, 34 countries and international organizations joined the program. Some 170,000 tons of humanitarian wheat were shipped to Ethiopia, Yemen, Somalia, Kenya, and Afghanistan.
More than $100 million was raised at the second international Grain From Ukraine summit in November 2023 to continue the humanitarian program for the countries most affected by food shortages.
The corridor was opened initially to allow the exit of vessels that had been docked at Ukraine's Black Sea ports since February 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Since then, it has become a route for exporting Ukrainian goods such as grain and metal. Ukraine is a major agricultural producer, and its supplies play a major role in feeding countries across the world, namely in the Global South.
Despite successful Ukrainian strikes against Russian naval capabilities, Black Sea shipping continues to face risks wrought by the all-out war, namely floating mines.
Panama-flagged civilian cargo vessel hit a Russian mine in the Black Sea on Dec. 28, 2023, leading to two sailors being injured, Ukraine's Southern Defense Forces reported.