Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, food insecurity in the world increased due to conflicts, climatic and economic crises. The war launched by Russia has made the situation worse, with the two countries alone accounting for 30% of the global wheat trade. Worse yet, thatHigh prices and shortages are dangerous famine and social unrest, especially in the poorest countries.
That is why on Wednesday, May 18, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called on Russia to liberalize Ukraine’s grain exports in order to be able to effectively combat the global food crisis.
“Russia must allow safe and secure export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports,” He urged at a ministerial meeting hosted by the United States in New York. “alternative modes of transportation” The sea outlet of this grain, and in particular the filling of the silos in Odessa, “They can be explored – though we know it won’t be enough to solve the problem”, he added.
Also the release of Russian fertilizer
Besides lifting the embargo on Ukrainian exports, appeals to the Secretary-General of the United Nations “unrestricted access” Russian food and fertilizers on world markets. This fertilizer was not subjected to Western sanctions against Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, but Russia decided to stop its exports. Diplomats said their purchase by foreign countries could also be blocked by actions against the Russian financial system.
Antonio Guterres has been negotiating these two topics for several weeks with Russia, Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and Turkey, which can help clear mines near Ukrainian ports and ensure the movement of ships. “I am optimistic, but there is still a long way to go. The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides,” He refused to say more in order not to jeopardize the chances of a deal.
$30 billion for food insecurity
For their part, the international financial institutions launched, on Wednesday, an “action plan” with tangible projects to accelerate existing programs, Targeted action that meets immediate needs. In doing so, the World Bank announced $12 billion in grants over the next 15 months, most of which will go to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Central and South Asia.
This circumstance, in particular, should support projects in favor of agriculture in these countries, Social protection to mitigate the effects of rising food prices. The Foundation explained the promotion of water supply and irrigation projects. It also announced that it has $18.7 billion unused that will also be allocated to projects.
“In all, this represents more than $30 billion available to implement the fight against food insecurity over the next 15 months,” Note the World Bank.
Its president, David Malpass, adds: “Rising food prices have devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable. To inform and stabilize markets, it is essential that countries now make clear statements about future production increases in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
It recommends that countries do “coordinated efforts” Not only to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, to help farmers increase planted crops and crop yields, but also for “Remove policies that prevent exports and imports (…) or encourage non-essential storage.”
In New York, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who himself chaired the ministerial meeting dedicated to the food crisis, reiterated the US’s commitment to fighting starvation and malnutrition. Washington Unblocked An additional $215 million. In order to combat food insecurity, he said.
Money, but also technical assistance
In addition to financing, international financial institutions have indicated that they can benefit from their technical expertise. “This includes making use of existing tools and programs in a rapid way (…), reorienting existing programs, (…) targeting work that meets immediate needs,” They explained in a press release.
Among its priority goals: to alleviate fertilizer shortages, support food production immediately, invest in agriculture that is resilient to future climate change, and promote free trade.
Even before the war in Ukraine, food insecurity was exacerbated by conflicts, climatic crises and economic crises. Last year, 193 million people in 53 countries were acutely food insecure, meaning they needed urgent help to survive, according to United Nations data.
The Indian blockade is an additional threat
Concern is growing as India plans to ban wheat exports to ensure food security for its 1.4 billion people, after production slumped due to scorching heat and soaring prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, complicating supplies in the global market. India, the world’s second largest wheat producer, on Saturday, May 14th, ordered wheat traders not to enter into new export deals without prior government approval. However, export contracts concluded before the decree may be executed.
The sudden announcement caused chaos at the Deendayal Port Trust (DPT) in the western state of Gujarat, where about 4,000 trucks loaded with wheat were parked on Tuesday. Four ships partially loaded with about 80,000 tons of wheat are also waiting to leave.
Until then, India had expressed its willingness to support global markets in the event of supply problems due to the invasion of Ukraine in February, which accounted for 12% of global exports. The G7 agriculture ministers immediately criticized the Indian decision out of fear of it ‘Exacerbating the crisis’ raw materials. Wheat price broke a new record high on Monday when the European market opened at €435 per ton.