Conflicts & War

Russian invasion of Ukraine risks global cereal, fertilizer supplies: UN

Rome, Mar 11 (EFE).- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses a serious threat to global food security given both countries’ status as leading exporters of cereal and fertilizers, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned Friday.

“Supply chain and logistical disruptions on Ukrainian and Russian grain and oilseed production and restrictions on Russia’s exports will have significant food security repercussions. This is especially true for some fifty countries that depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30% or more of their wheat supply,” a statement from FAO director-general Qu Dongyu read.

Russia is the largest exporter of wheat in the world, while Ukraine ranks fifth on that list. Put together Russia and Ukraine provide 19% of the world’s barley, 14% of its wheat, 4% of its maize and 52% of its sunflower oil.

Many of the countries that rely on those exports are developing nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East but other developed countries in Europe rely on fertilizer exports, which Russia leads, the statement added.

On the rise since the second half of last year, food prices hit record levels in February 2022 due to high demand, transportation costs and port disruptions with wheat prices soaring 31% during 2021. Rapeseed and sunflower oil prices rose 61% while fertilizer costs tripled, the statement said.

“The conflict’s intensity and duration remain uncertain. The likely disruptions to agricultural activities of these two major exporters of staple commodities could seriously escalate food insecurity globally, when international food and input prices are already high and volatile.

“The conflict could also constrain agricultural production and purchasing power in Ukraine, leading to increased food insecurity locally,” the FAO warned.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has displaced millions of people, which in turn casts uncertainty on the country’s ability to harvest and deliver agricultural products.

This is compounded by the fact that Ukraine’s Black Sea ports are closed off or besieged by Russian forces and the internal rail system cannot adequately mitigate the shortfall in export infrastructure.

While Russian ports remain open, Western sanctions on Moscow “have caused an important depreciation which, if continued, could undermine productivity and growth and ultimately further elevate agricultural production costs.”

The FAO has urged countries dependent on Russian and Ukrainian products to search for new suppliers and diversify domestic production.

“Export prospects for sunflower oil and other alternative oils also remain uncertain. Major sunflower oil importers, including India, the European Union, China, Iran, and Turkey, must find other suppliers or other vegetable oils, which could have a spill-over effect on palm, soy, and rapeseed oils, for example,” the statement said. EFE


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