On June 9th, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion on the global food crisis.
Recently, food security issues have been particularly acute on the international agenda. After the Western countries launched a full-scale economic war, a food crisis became inevitable: the closure of the airspace and ports of Europe for Russian aircraft and ships has entailed interruptions in the supply chains of basic agricultural products, primarily sunflower oil and grain. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said: “Sanctions against Russia will be in place for a very long time, trade channels will change for many years, if not forever,” meaning, most likely, food supply channels.
For his part, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu noted that a severe crisis is coming, due to which some countries have already found themselves in a "catastrophic phase of food insecurity." European countries are trying to blame Russia, insisting that it is responsible for the break in supply chains.
Russia is an integral part of the global trading system and the largest exporter of agricultural products. Many African countries are almost completely dependent on Russian grain exports. The Ukrainian crisis has blocked the possibility of exporting grain from the territory of Ukraine, which, together with Russia, accounts for a third of global wheat exports. Russia is making every effort to overcome the food crisis and is ready to ensure the unhindered passage of ships with Ukrainian grain to the Mediterranean Sea if Ukraine clears the mines it has placed in coastal waters. However, the US does not intend to ease sanctions against Russia, even at the expense of Ukrainian grain exports to the world market.
The existing logistical restrictions may lead to an aggravation of socio-economic contradictions in the countries of Africa and the Middle East, which will create new hotbeds of instability in these regions. Both developing and developed countries are feeling the consequences: South African stores have had to limit the sale of sunflower oil, the price of which has risen by 55% since February, while the Danish and British authorities have limited the sale of sunflower oil to each person. The crisis hasn’t spared the Eurozone, where inflation has reached a record 7.5%. In this context, questions arise about the future of food supplies and the level of impact of the growing crisis on the global economy.
How will the world community cope with the food crisis? What was its main cause? Is it possible to reverse the crisis and prevent hunger? Which countries will be hit the hardest? Participants of the discussion answered these and other questions.
- Nourhan ElSheikh, professor of political science at Cairo University
- Oleg Kobyakov, Director of the FAO Moscow Office
- Ivan Timofeev, Programme Director, Valdai Discussion Club
- H. E. Mohamed Yongawo, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Sierra Leone to Russian Federation
- Eduard Zernin, Chairman of the Board of the Union of Grain Exporters.
- Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.