The problem of ensuring food supply

Wednesday, 2022-05-18 16:29:58
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German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at a press conference in Berlin, Germany. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
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NDO - Food sourcing was one of the important topics discussed at the recent Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised countries held in Schleswig-Holstein, in the northernmost state of Germany. This is also an urgent issue for many countries as their efforts to ensure food security are currently being severely affected by conflicts and climate change.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasised the strategic importance of this G7 meeting in the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Minister Annalena Baerbock said that because Ukraine is an important grain exporter in the world, the conflict in this country has had a great impact on global food security, as millions of tonnes of grain are trapped in Ukraine.

The German Foreign Minister warned of a food crisis first in Africa and the Middle East as a result of the conflict as up to 25 million tonnes of grain are currently blocked at ports in Ukraine. The food crisis is being exacerbated by the impact of global climate change.

Ukraine is currently one of the most important grain suppliers worldwide. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Ukraine was the third largest barley exporter and the fifth largest wheat exporter in the world in 2021.

The G7 wants to ensure that Ukraine continues to be an important world food exporter by finding ways to break the blockade on grain exports in Ukraine. Canada said it was in talks with other G7 nations and European countries about sending Canadian ships to ports in Romania to help Ukraine bring its wheat to markets that depend heavily on this supply.

Canada’s priorities in the near future are bringing Ukrainian wheat to foreign markets, along with securing grain vaults to store grain of the next harvest. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the country is considering solutions to support Ukraine exporting grain, of which exporting through ports on the Danube River could be a solution and that Canada will provide 25 million USD to the World Food Programme (WFP) to help ensure global food security.

The European Union (EU), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and more than 20 other countries, including the US, have issued a joint statement on strengthening global food security. These governments and international organisations have emphasised the urgency and importance of maintaining open and predictable agricultural markets and trade.

This will help ensure a constant flow of food, as well as products, services and inputs essential to the production and supply of agricultural and food products. Thereby, countries must commit to work together to help ensure adequate, safe, affordable, and easily accessible food and nutritional products.

Meanwhile, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development plans to add 430 million EUR to responding to the worsening food crisis in the southern hemisphere. Of the total amount, 238 million EUR will be used to support the building of a sustainable agricultural economy or investment in education, 150 million EUR will be used for a special initiative called “A World Without Hunger” and at least 42 million EUR will be contributed to the WFP.

Wheat importers in Asia are making efforts to find new sources of supply, after India banned the export of this commodity in order to curb rising domestic prices due to a severe heatwave affecting wheat output. According to experts, wheat importers, especially in Asia, have had to rely on supplies from India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer.

A wheat trading company based in Europe said that wheat importers in Asia are at risk of major difficulties because India is an alternative to supplies from Ukraine and Russia, especially in terms of forage wheat. After the markets reacted to India’s ban, wheat futures prices in Chicago (the US) rose 6%. Traders forecast the ban could push global wheat prices to new record highs, hitting poor consumers hardest in Asia and Africa.

According to the WFP, more than 300 million people are now facing severe hunger. The worst forecast is that the world could face its most severe famine since World War II, with millions of victims. In the context of disrupted supply chains and stalled food production, many countries are aggressively seeking and managing supply sources to solve their food security problems.