The resolution of the grain crisis that emerged after the Russia-Ukraine war broke out has prevented a larger food crisis, Türkiye's agriculture and forestry minister said on Thursday.
"The resolution of the grain corridor crisis was a great relief for countries that met and supplied their needs from these two countries (Russia and Ukraine)," Vahit Kirişci said while speaking to Anadolu Agency's Editor's Desk in the capital Ankara.
A possible "greater food-related crisis" has been averted, he underlined, referring to a landmark accord brokered by Ankara and the UN to reopen three Ukrainian ports for the export of grain that has been stuck there for months.
The deal will also help lower food prices that have been on the rise for months due to the war, which began in February, he noted. "This has also now reflected on product prices. We're now talking about $350-$355 in wheat prices, which had hit $440-$450," Kirişci said.
Pointing to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's successful diplomatic efforts, the top agriculture official said Türkiye was the country least affected by the food crisis that had affected the entire world.
Kirişci said that in a recent meeting, his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solsky told him 19 million tons of wheat alone were stuck in Ukraine, stressing the significance for the world market that such an amount could now be traded overseas.
Under the deal, the first ship to depart Ukraine -- carrying over 26,500 tons of corn -- passed an inspection in Istanbul on Tuesday and proceeded to Lebanon. The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo vessel had left Odesa on Monday.
"We hope the rest of the products will reach the Black Sea and from there to destination countries via this corridor without incident," added the Turkish minister.
Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed the historic agreement on July 22 to reopen the ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny for grain exports.
To oversee the exports, a joint coordination center was set up in Istanbul and officially launched on July 27, comprising representatives from Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine to enable the safe transportation by merchant ships of commercial foodstuffs and fertilizers from the three key Black Sea ports.
Amid rising temperatures and heatwaves across the world, Kirişci also gave details about the Turkish firefighting fleet with both land and air capabilities.
He said the country had 55 helicopter fire extinguishers, 20 planes, and eight drones along with 1,350 water tenders, 2,270 first responder vehicles, and 21,000 personnel.
Türkiye's firefighting fleet is sufficient, yet international solidarity is still necessary when dozens of fires break out simultaneously, he said.
On President Erdoğan's planned meeting with his Russian counterpart in Sochi on Friday, Kirişci said they would make progress on purchasing firefighting aircraft from Russia.
Urging public vigilance and care in forests, he said efforts were ongoing to restore forestland burned in fires last summer and plant saplings in places where there were no more trees.