The free grain that Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to poor African countries is scheduled to land on the continent within days according to Dmitry Patrushev the Russian Agriculture Minister.
Somalia and Burkina Faso will get the first consignments enabling Russia to bolster its influence in the continent.
In July, President Putin while hosting the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg promised to send free grain to six African countries that have strong ties with Moscow.
The donation was criticized following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea initiative brokered by the United Nations aimed to help avert famine by injecting more wheat, sunflower oil, fertiliser and other products into world markets, including for humanitarian needs.
Free shipments of grain are totaling up to 200,000 tonnes begun last week destined to six African countries including; Somalia, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali and Central African Republic.
Last year, Russia exported around 60 million tonnes of grain, according to Putin.
“I have already said that our country can replace Ukrainian grain, both on a commercial basis and as grant aid to the neediest African countries, more so since we expect another record harvest this year,” President Putin said at the Russia-Africa summit.
President Putin said in his speech that Moscow was ready to work with African leaders on developing their finances and using regional currencies for trade payments.
He added that Russia was keen to deepen its ties to the continent and radically increase trade.