May 21, 2022

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Food prices have risen to record levels in the wake of the turmoil of war in Ukraine

Food prices have risen to record levels in the wake of the turmoil of war in Ukraine

ROME (AP) – Prices of food commodities such as grains and vegetable oils reached all-time highs last month in large part due to the Russian war in Ukraine and the “massive supply disruptions” it is causing.The United Nations said on Friday it was threatening millions of people in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere with hunger and malnutrition.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said the Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in international prices for a basket of goods, averaged 159.3 points last month, up 12.6% from February. As it stands, the February index was the highest since its inception in 1990.

FAO said the war in Ukraine It was largely responsible for the 17.1% increase in grain prices, including wheat and other types such as oats, barley, and corn. Russia and Ukraine together make up about 30% and 20% of the world’s wheat and corn exports, respectively.

Josef Schmidhuber, deputy director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Markets and Trade Division, said that while he was expecting given the sharp rise in February, it was “really fantastic”. Obviously, these extremely high food prices require urgent action. “

The largest price increases were for vegetable oils: this price index rose by 23.2%, driven by higher prices for sunflower seed oil used in cooking. Ukraine is the number one exporter of sunflower oil in the world, and Russia is No. 2.

“There is, of course, a huge disruption to supplies, and this massive disruption to supplies from the Black Sea region has led to higher prices for vegetable oils,” Schmidhuber told reporters in Geneva.

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He said he could not calculate how much of the war was blamed on record food prices, noting that bad weather in the United States and China had also been blamed on crop concerns. But he said “logistical factors” play a big role.

“Basically, there are no exports through the Black Sea, and exports through the Baltic states are practically coming to an end,” he said.

Soaring food prices and disrupted supplies from Russia and Ukraine are threatening food shortages in countries in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia where many people are not already getting enough to eat..

Those countries depend on affordable supplies of wheat and other grains from the Black Sea region to feed the millions of people who survive on subsidized bread and bargained pasta, and now they face the prospect of further political instability.

Other large grain producers such as the United States, Canada, France, Australia and Argentina are being closely monitored to see if they can increase production quickly To fill in the gaps, but farmers are facing problems such as rising fuel and fertilizer costs exacerbated by war, drought and supply chain disruptions.

said Sepp Oulu, senior researcher with the World Food Program for West and Central Africa in Dakar, Senegal.

“There is a sharp deterioration in food and nutrition security in the region,” he told reporters, noting that six million children are malnourished and about 16 million people in urban areas are at risk of food insecurity.

He said farmers are particularly concerned about not being able to access fertilizers produced in the Black Sea region. Russia is a leading global exporter.

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“The cost of fertilizer has gone up by about 30% in many places in this region because of the supply disruptions we are seeing due to a crisis in Ukraine,” he said.

He said the World Food Program had requested $777 million to meet the needs of 22 million people in the Sahel and Nigeria over six months.

In order to meet the needs of food importing countries, the FAO is developing a proposal for a mechanism to ease import costs for the poorest countries, Schmidhuber said. The proposal calls on eligible countries to commit additional investments in their agricultural productivity to obtain import credits to help cushion the blow.