• September 23, 2023
The arrival of a ship carrying corn at Lebanon’s northern port of Tripoli has raised interest because it originated in the Black Sea port of Odesa, in Ukraine. The Razoni, loaded with more than 26,000 tons of corn for chicken feed, is emerging from the edges of a war that has threatened food supplies in countries like Lebanon, where the government relies on the Black Sea region for nearly all of its wheat. The fighting in Ukraine has trapped 20 million tons of grains and prevented their export, but a ship carrying the first major shipment departed for Africa on Monday. The cargo will reach those in need in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.
However, a Lebanon-based buyer rejected the first grain shipment out of Ukraine via the Black Sea, according to a tweet from the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon. The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni was the first vessel to set sail early this month under a U.N.- and Turkey-sponsored deal that grants ships carrying grain safe passage to and from Ukraine’s ports in the Odesa region. Global food prices rose since Russia’s invasion, but have dipped slightly since the deal was announced last month. According to shipping data, the Razoni is carrying more than 26,000 tons of corn and is currently in the Mediterranean near the Turkish coast. Ten ships have departed from Ukraine’s three Black Sea ports under the Black Sea agreement. On Sunday, Lebanese Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamiya stated that the Razoni dry cargo ship, sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone with Ukrainian grain on board, changed its route and appears to be waiting for instructions on a new destination. The Ukrainian Embassy in Lebanon has announced that the final buyer in Lebanon refused to accept the cargo because of delivery delays (more than 5 months). The shipper is now looking for another consignee.
The setback underscores the difficulties of restarting grain shipments and easing a global food crisis sparked by Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The Razoni was the first ship to test the reopening of the route last week after a deal was signed between Ukraine and Russia. The vessel’s shipping agents in Tripoli said the initial buyer of the cargo in Lebanon rejected the grain over quality concerns. Another agent, based in Turkey, was waiting for instructions for the cargo, he said, adding: “We don’t know what will happen.” The agents did not disclose who owned the cargo. The UN has stressed that it is common for cargoes to change hands while en route. However, the failure of the closely watched vessel to complete its journey demonstrates the challenges international organisations face in trying to alleviate the growing food crisis. Neil Roberts, head of marine and aviation at the Lloyd’s Market Association, said, “Details about quality control are understandably vague but the Razoni’s cargo was rejected by the buyer in Lebanon, so there will likely be some further problems.” He continued, “For now, the good news is that some vessels are out and some grain export has resumed, but much remains in the balance.”.

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