The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says global food prices stabilized last month at a very high level, but were slightly lower than in March, which saw the biggest increase ever recorded food prices.
FAO officials see little prospect of a significant drop in food prices as long as the Russian-Ukrainian war continues. Together, these two countries account for nearly a third of global wheat and barley exports and up to 80% of sunflower oil shipments.
The deputy director of the FAO’s Markets and Trade Division, Josef Schmidhuber, said the disruption to the export of these and other food items from Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on global food security. He said poor countries suffer the most because they are excluded from the market.
“It’s an almost grotesque situation that we’re seeing right now,” he said. “In Ukraine, there are almost 25 million tons of grain that could be exported but it cannot leave the country simply because of the lack of infrastructure and the blockade of ports. At the same time… there is no there is no wheat corridor opening up for exports from Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s summer crop of wheat, barley and maize will be harvested in July and August. Despite the war, Schmidhuber said harvest conditions are not dire. He said about 14 million tonnes of grain should be available for export.
However, he noted that there is not enough storage capacity in Ukraine. He added that there was a lot of uncertainty about what will happen over the next two months as the conflict continues.
“And what we also see, and of course this is just anecdotal evidence, is that grain is being stolen from Russia and trucked into Russia,” Schmidhuber said. “The same goes for agricultural tools, tractors, etc. And all of this could affect agricultural production.”
The FAO official said the situation in Ukraine indicates that the current problem is not one of availability, but one of access. He said there was enough grain to go around and feed the world. The problem, he said, is that food isn’t moving to where it’s needed.
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