Presidents of Ukraine, Kenya agree to establish grain hub in Mombasa

By bne IntelliNews September 20, 2023

The presidents of Ukraine and Kenya have reached an agreement on grain imports designed to help the African country and its neighbours boost food security by hosting a hub for grain imported from the Eastern European country.

The leaders met at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York. Kenya’s President Willian Ruto noted that Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat, and his own country is among its largest importers of grain – despite the ongoing war with Russia.

“In New York, we held talks with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who pledged to create a grain hub in the port of Mombasa to solve the problem of food shortages in East Africa,” Ruto said of his Ukrainian counterpart.

The Kenyan leader also pledged to support Ukraine during the crisis brought on by the Russian invasion.

“You have demonstrated a lot of resilience, and we know it’s been difficult for the people of Ukraine. They’re strong, and you have our support,” said Ruto. “As I told you, my brother, we believe in a world order based on rules.” 

According to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Alfred Mutua, who attended the meeting in New York, the grain warehouse in the port of Mombasa would serve as a grain hub and contribute to socio-economic stability in the East African region, which has long suffered from drought.

Zelenskyy said that Ukraine has long been looking to find ways to help prevent shocks to the global food market, stressing that Ukraine would never abandon its role as a guarantor of global food security.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly, the Ukrainian president warned Russia against “weaponising essentials like food and energy” not only against Ukraine but against the rest of the world.

“Nobody expected from us that we could press the Russian fleet out of our Black Sea waters, providing more room for the Black Sea Grain Initiative [BSGI] as well as a humanitarian initiative – Grain from Ukraine. And the results are truly remarkable,” he said.

“Ukraine food exports have reached the shores of Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Somalia, Tunisia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Iraq, Oman, Pakistan, Türkiye, Yemen, and others. The roads from intermediary ports have carried our products to Ethiopia and Sudan.

“This was a total of 32 million metric tons of food. This is 32 million metric tons less chaos.”

World leaders have urged Russia to rejoin the BSGI, which safely delivered Ukraine’s grain worldwide and stabilized food prices. UN Secretary-General António Guterres had described the deal, brokered by the world body and Turkey in July 2022, as “a lifeline for global food security  and a beacon of hope in a troubled world”.

The deal delivered grain to some of the world’s most food-insecure countries, such as Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan. China has been the biggest beneficiary, acquiring almost 8mn metric tons of agricultural exports under the grain deal.

Other recipients include Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya and Tunisia. The BSGI also had supplied Ukrainian grain to the UN’s World Food Programme , the largest humanitarian organization in the world fighting hunger and food insecurity.

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