First shipment of Russian fertilizer heads for Africa, UN says

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - The first shipment of Russian-produced fertilizer left the Netherlands on Tuesday en route to Malawi under a previously brokered United Nations export deal, a spokesperson for the UN secretary general said in a statement.

The shipment of 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer is the first of a series of exports destined for Africa in the coming months, the spokesperson said, adding that Tuesday's load will be sent to Malawi via Mozambique.

The U.N.-brokered deal, first set in July, renewed earlier this month and allows grain exports from certain Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, as well as fertilizer exports from Russian producers despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia suspended its participation in the agreement for four days in October but later rejoined.

Allowing donated exports of 260,000 metric tonnes of Russia fertilizer products stored in Europe to be exported "will serve to alleviate humanitarian needs and prevent catastrophic crop loss in Africa, where it is currently planting season," a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

"The United Nations is continuing intense diplomatic efforts with all parties to ensure the unimpeded exports of critical food and fertilizers from Ukraine and the Russian Federation, exempt from sanction regimes, to the world markets," the spokesperson added.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Katharine Jackson and Nick Zieminski

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