The first ship with Ukrainian grain leaves the port of Odessa

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday under an internationally brokered deal that is expected to free large stocks of Ukrainian crops on foreign markets and ease a growing hunger crisis.

The Sierra Leonean-flagged cargo ship Razoni left Odessa for Lebanon, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. A UN statement said the Razoni was carrying more than 26,000 tonnes of maize.

Data from Razoni’s automatic identification system, a tool to track the safety of ships at sea, showed the ship slowly leaving its berth in the Port of Odessa on Monday morning along with a tugboat.

The ship is expected to reach Istanbul on Tuesday, where it will be inspected before being allowed to proceed, the ministry said.

The corn will head to Lebanon, a small Middle Eastern nation in the grip of what the World Bank has described as one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years. An explosion in 2020 at its main port of Beirut shattered its capital and destroyed grain silos there, some of which collapsed after a week-long fire just on Sunday.

As Razoni moved towards the open waters of the Black Sea, he changed his destination from Istanbul to Tripoli, Lebanon.

“Today, Ukraine, together with partners, is taking another step towards preventing world hunger,” said Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister.

He said it would also help Ukraine.

“Unlocking the ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange earnings for the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.

The Turkish ministry’s statement said other ships would also leave Ukraine’s ports through safe corridors in accordance with agreements signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.

Russia and Ukraine have signed separate agreements with Turkey and the UN, clearing the way for Ukraine, one of the world’s major breadbaskets — for the export of 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods, which were blocked in the Black Sea ports due to the invasion of Russia.

The deals also allow Russia to export grain and fertilizer.

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