United Nations, May 5
The United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) said it was in talks with India over buying wheat as the countries face food security concerns amid the war in Ukraine.
“We are in talks with India on the supply of wheat. So this is something that is ongoing,” World Food Program chief economist Arif Husain told a news conference here on Wednesday.
He was responding to a question about India having a huge surplus of wheat and whether the organization was doing anything to use that stock with India as the Russian-Ukrainian war exacerbates the global food security situation.
On another question on whether restrictions imposed by the World Trade Organization on the amount India can export should be suspended under the current emergency, Husain said that one of the recommendations , be it the World Food Programme, the IMF, the World Bank or even the World Trade Organization. , relates to the World Food Program’s exemption from export bans.
He noted that a few weeks ago, these organizations encouraged governments not to impose export bans, which then artificially increased the price and availability or reduced the availability of key commodities. “So this is something that is a very big recommendation and I hope countries listen,” he said.
India’s wheat production stood at 109.59 million tonnes in the 2020-21 crop year (July-June).
Earlier this year, India started sending wheat shipments to Afghanistan. India has pledged to supply 50,000 tonnes of wheat grain to Afghanistan, which will be delivered overland from Pakistan. The grain will be delivered to the United Nations agency World Food Program for the supply of the Afghan people.
The World Food Program launched the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises on Wednesday, in which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine is “fuelling” a three-dimensional crisis – food, energy and financial – with devastating effects on the world’s most vulnerable. peoples, countries and economies.
“All of this comes at a time when developing countries are already grappling with cascading challenges not of their making – the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and insufficient resources amid persistent inequalities and growing,” he said.
The report says that globally, levels of hunger remain alarmingly high. In 2021, they surpassed all previous records as reported by the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), with nearly 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance in 53 countries/territories. This represents an increase of almost 40 million people from the previous record reached in 2020.
The report warned that the outlook for global acute food insecurity in 2022 is expected to deteriorate further compared to 2021.
“In particular, the ongoing war in Ukraine is likely to exacerbate the already severe forecasts of acute food insecurity for 2022 included in this report, as the repercussions of the war on global food prices and supplies, in energy and fertilizers have not yet been taken into account in most country-level projection analyses,” he said.
In 2021, nearly 70% of the total number of people in crisis or worse or equivalent were in ten food-crisis countries/territories: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Yemen, North of Nigeria, the Syrian Arab Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan and Haiti. In seven of them, conflict/insecurity was the main driver of acute food insecurity.
The report also adds that while Bangladesh continues to struggle with economic recovery after two years of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and the accompanying economic impacts impacted markets from late February. 2022. Bangladesh imports 10.7 percent of its total food imports from the Russian Federation and 4.5 percent from Ukraine. It is one of the largest wheat importers in the world, buying around 6 million tonnes a year, mainly from India, Canada, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
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