Food prices rise to record high over disruptions in Ukraine war

ROME (AP) – Prices of food items such as grains and vegetable oils rose to their highest levels last month, mainly due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the “massive supply disruptions” caused by it, millions in Africa, the Middle East and the Middle East. People are in danger. Along with hunger and malnutrition, the United Nations said on Friday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said its food price index, which tracks monthly changes in international prices for a basket of commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month, up 12.6 percent from February. Anyway, the February index was the highest level since its inception in 1990.

The FAO said the war in Ukraine was largely responsible for a 17.1% increase in grain prices, which included wheat and others such as oats, barley and corn. Overall, Russia and Ukraine account for 30% and 20% of global wheat and maize exports, respectively.

Given February’s sharp growth, “it’s really remarkable,” said Joseph Schmidhuber, deputy director of the FAO’s markets and trade division. “Clearly, these very high prices for food require immediate action.”

The biggest price increase was for vegetable oils: the price index rose 23.2%, driven by higher quotations for sunflower seed oil used for cooking. Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil, and Russia is No. 2.

“Of course, there is a massive supply disruption, and a massive supply disruption from the Black Sea region has boosted vegetable oil prices,” Schmituber told reporters in Geneva.

He said he could not calculate how much the war was responsible for record food prices, noting that poor weather conditions in the United States and China were also to blame for crop concerns. But he added that “logistic factors” are playing a bigger role.

“Essentially, there is no export through the Black Sea, and exports through the Baltics are also practically coming to an end,” he said.

Rising food prices and supply disruptions from Russia and Ukraine threaten food shortages in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia, where many people already do not get enough to eat. Had been.

Those nations rely on cheap supplies of wheat and other grains from the Black Sea region to feed the millions who subsist on subsidized bread and bargain noodles, and they now face the prospect of further political instability.

Other large grain producers, such as the United States, Canada, France, Australia and Argentina, are being closely watched to see if they can rapidly increase production to fill the gap, but farmers need to use fuel and fertilizers. Issues such as cost overruns are faced. Drought and supply chain disruption.

In the Sahel region of Central and West Africa, the disruption of war has added to an already precarious food situation due to COVID-19, conflict, bad weather and other structural problems, said World Food Program senior researcher Sib Olo. West and Central Africa in Dakar, Senegal.

“There has been a drastic decline in food and nutritional security in the region,” he told reporters. He said that 6 million children are malnourished and about 16 million people in urban areas are at risk of food insecurity.

Farmers were particularly concerned that they would not be able to access fertilizers produced in the Black Sea region, he said. Russia is a major global exporter.

“The cost of fertilizers has increased by about 30% in many places in the region, because of the supply disruptions we provoke from the crisis in Ukraine,” he said.

He said the World Food Program has appealed for $777 million to meet the needs of 22 million people in the Sahel region and Nigeria in six months.

Schmidhuber said that to meet the needs of food importing countries, the FAO was developing a proposal for a mechanism to reduce import costs for the poorest countries. The resolution calls on eligible countries to commit to additional investments in their agricultural productivity to help obtain import credit.

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