Russia to send free grain to African countries within a month


Russia will begin delivering tens of thousands of tons of grain to six African countries within a month to six weeks, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said on Friday, according to the Interfax news agency.

Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev attends a video conference meeting to discuss agricultural issues including spring field operations in Moscow, Russia, May 18, 2023. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS/File Photo

The move is part of a pledge by President Vladimir Putin to gift grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea, despite facing Western sanctions that have hampered its agricultural exports.

Putin announced the donation at a Russia-Africa summit in July, saying that Moscow was ready to provide 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain to each of the six countries in the next three to four months.

He said the sanctions, imposed over Russia's annexation of Crimea and its role in the Ukraine conflict, had made it harder for Russia to export its grain and fertilisers.

Russia is one of the world's largest wheat exporters, but its shipments have been hit by drought and rising domestic prices. 

In July, it quit a year-old agreement that had allowed Ukraine, another major exporter, to ship grain from its Black Sea ports.

The donation was criticised by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called it "a handful of donations".

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