Russian grain deliveries to Africa to start within a month – Ifax cites agriculture minister

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will start delivering its grain to African countries within a month to six weeks, the Interfax news agency cited Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev as saying on Friday.

“We are now finalising all the documents. I think that within a month – or a month and a half – they will start,” Interfax quoted Patrushev as saying.

President Vladimir Putin told African leaders in July he would gift them tens of thousands of tons of grain despite Western sanctions, which he said made it harder for Moscow to export its grain and fertilisers.

“We will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea with 25-50,000 tonnes of free grain each in the next three to four months,” Putin told a Russia-Africa summit at the time.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres has called the promised grain “a handful of donations”.

Russia in July quit a year-old agreement that had allowed Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest exporters, to ship grain from its Black Sea ports.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Osborn)