Russia’s agriculture minister announced late Tuesday that Moscow had completed its initiative to deliver 200,000 metric tons of grain for free to six African countries, as promised by President Vladimir Putin in July.

Russia distributed 50,000 tonnes each to Somalia and the Central African Republic, and 25,000 tonnes each to Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and Eritrea, Dmitry Patrushev told Vladimir Putin during their meeting, according to a press release that was uploaded on the website of the presidency.

Mr Putin promised to send free grain to the six countries at a meeting of African leaders in July, shortly after Moscow decided to withdraw from the so-called Black Sea Initiative, which had allowed Ukraine to export its grain despite the war.

The agreement helped reduce food prices on international markets. However – according to the Russian president – the food did not reach the countries that were most in need.

After the Russia-Africa summit, there was “building of cooperation” and “we were able to deliver this amount of wheat to these countries quite quickly,” the Russian agriculture minister said.

He also told the president that his services estimate that Russia will export 70 million metric tons of grain in the 2023-2024 agricultural fiscal year, up from 66 million tons the previous year, an amount with an estimated value of $16.5 billion. The agricultural year 2023-2024 started on 1 July 2023 and ends on 30 June 2024.