Norms and Values
When Will the Global Grain Crisis Be Overcome?

On July 22, an agreement to export grain across the Black Sea was signed in Istanbul between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations. According to the agreement, Ukrainian grain will be shipped across the Black Sea from the ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny under the auspices of the four parties through a coordination centre based in Istanbul.

The agreement has led to some optimism concerning the relief of the global grain crisis that is afflicting the entire world, especially Africa and the Middle East. The crisis has serious social, economic and political repercussions. It threatens an economic crisis that could bring famine to some countries. It is also linked to the possibility of widespread political instability that may result from deteriorating living conditions. The World Food Programme estimates that 345 million people face acute food insecurity in 82 countries. At the forefront is the Horn of Africa. The Middle East and North Africa region has also been badly affected, with hunger in the region increasing 25%. Another rise of 10% to 12% will push the problem to unprecedented levels.
Food Crisis and Sanctions
On June 9, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on the global food crisis. The discussion moderator Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for the Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, asked the participants whether the food crisis has already begun in the world or whether it is still only a threat.
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In the first month since the signing of the agreement, 27 ships carrying food have crossed through Ukrainian ports. It's a good step, but not enough. Overcoming the global grain crisis is still a long way off in light of several considerations.

First, the exporting process is relatively slow. In the month since the deal was signed, which has a duration of four months (120 days), less than a million tons out of a total 22 million tons of grain and other essential agricultural products have been exported. The pre-war level was five million tons per month. Moreover, most of what’s been exported, as well as what’s in Ukrainian ports, has been animal feed, not intended for human consumption.

Second, the Ukrainian grain has not gone to Africa, but rather to developed countries, including Britain, Ireland, Turkey, Italy and China. It has not gone to Yemen, Somalia, or any other country facing catastrophic levels of hunger. Only one grain shipment reached Africa, on August 18th. It delivered 23 tonnes of wheat to Ethiopia. How can this limited quantity change the reality of famine in Africa!?

Third, and most importantly, the memorandum of understanding that was signed between the United Nations and Russia has not yet been implemented. It obligates the international organisation to facilitate the unhindered access of Russian grain and fertiliser to world markets. Russia, for its part, has committed to implementing the agreement. So far, the United Nations has not fulfilled the obligations of the Memorandum. Russia is the most important grain exporter. Ukraine accounts for about 5% of world grain exports, while Russia's share is four times greater. Russia ranks first in world exports of grain and fertilizers, and is one of the largest exporters of sunflower oil. 

There is no solution to the global grain crisis without Russia. The Western sanctions are not directed only to Russia but actually to the whole world including themselves. As the US Treasury Department declared, on July 14, that agricultural and medical products are not part of Russia sanctions for the good of American people, all sanctions must be lifted. World ports have to be opened for the unconditional export of Russian grain. It is also important to exempt money transfers related to payment for Russian grains from restrictions or to find an alternative payment mechanism.

The right to life and to food are the most important human rights. They have top priority over all others. The lives of millions of people are more important than any strategic competition waged by the West, who has long claimed to defend human rights.
Economic Statecraft
The Global Food Crisis: Reasons and the Way Out
Nourhan ElSheikh
Although the world produces enough food to feed all of its 7.7 billion people, it has been facing a growing hunger problem. With the “American +” sanctions against Russia, the whole world has slipped into a severe food crisis. All countries are threatened, including the Western ones, to different degrees.
Expert Opinions
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.