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China has included extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) to protect grain exports from the Ukraine as part of its 12-point position on the war in the country, AgriCensus reports.

The country has been the largest recipient of Ukrainian agricultural produce since the export corridor re-opened the key Black Sea ports of Pivdennyi, Odessa and Chornomorsk on 27 July, according to the 24 February report.

The initiative, which was extended for 120 days on 17 November, is due for renewal this week.

China’s plan called for the need for dialogue, assurances on the non-use of nuclear weapons, guarantees for the integrity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and urged all parties to implement the BSGI “in a balanced manner, and support the United Nations (UN) in playing an important role in this regard”.

AgriCensus said UN data showed that nearly 21% of the agricultural goods exported through the Black Sea corridor had gone to China, making it the biggest recipient of Ukrainian produce.

China was a key buyer of Ukrainian corn and barley, particularly non-genetically modified (GM) Ukrainian corn, a crop that was hard to source in volume. It had significantly increased its import of Ukrainian corn in the last few months, taking 2.4M tonnes from December to 22 February, AgriCensus wrote.

Meanwhile, mounting inspection delays in Istanbul by Ukrainian, Turkish and Russian teams had started to deter buyers of Ukrainian grains, with over 100 ships now waiting to be cleared, the report said. The number of vessels cleared per day has fallen to just 2.5 on average.