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GENEVA: After a first shipment of Russian fertiliser blocked in European ports heads for Malawi next week, a second batch should go to West Africa, the United Nations said Friday.

The news comes following talks between Moscow and the UN this week, aimed at ensuring that vital Russian fertiliser exports are not snagged by the Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine, in a bid to ease the global food insecurity crisis.

While a positive step, Rebeca Grynspan, head of the UN’s trade and development agency who was closely involved in the talks, acknowledged that this week’s understanding would not solve the global fertiliser crunch on its own.

Grynspan said there were around 300,000 tonnes of Russian fertiliser blocked in different European ports.

Ukraine grain export deal extended for four months

The first shipment of 20,000 metric tonnes of Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium (NPK) is currently being loaded onto a vessel chartered by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP).

The vessel should sail from the Netherlands on November 21, bound for Malawi via a port in Mozambique.

The fertiliser is being considered as a humanitarian donation by the Russian fertiliser company Uralchem/Uralkali to countries most in need in Africa.

“Now we have a model that is working,” Grynspan told reporters in Geneva.

“WFP is the one in charge of taking the fertiliser from the ports to the countries that need the fertiliser.

“There is clarity that this is a humanitarian event and that’s the framework in which we have been able to all agree… to help ease the pain in the fertiliser crunch.”

The second shipment should be heading to the other side of Africa, she said.

“We hope that the next destination of the fertilisers will be West Africa,” the former vice-president of Costa Rica said.

Global food import bill to jump to record $1.9trn

An agreement to ensure Russia’s fertiliser exports were exempt from sanctions was first reached in July, in parallel with a deal aimed at ensuring exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers, and the Russian invasion in February had blocked 20 million tonnes of grain in its ports until a safe passage deal was agreed.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the UN and Turkey and signed in July largely fixed that problem.

It was due to expire on Saturday but was extended for a second 120-day period on Thursday.

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