Diplomats address worsening food crisis; Egypt cuts wheat imports – AgFax

Missy Ryan reported in Saturday’s Washington Post that “Senior diplomats on Friday called for swift global action in the face of a growing food crisisas the war in Ukraine worsens the conditions that have pushed millions of hungry people.

“German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock hosted officials including the Secretary of State Antoine Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio in the German capital for a summit aimed at finding ways to mitigate impacts of the situation, which the United Nations says has now leaves tens of millions of people acutely food insecure.

“Russia is waging a cynical grain war, using it as a tool to drive up food prices” [skyrocket] and destabilize entire countries,” Baerbock said in remarks alongside Blinken before the summit opened.

The Post article noted that “officials described a slow confluence of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and a series of global conflicts, including, now, the war in Ukraine – a major grain exporter whose crops are a key source of livelihood for countries like Egypt and Lebanon.

“US officials have stressed the need to offset the dramatic reduction in exports from Ukraine, which prior to the February 24 Russian invasion exported some 6 million tons of grain per month, mostly by sea. Today, large quantities of wheat, barley, corn and vegetable oil are stored in storage facilities and ports due to fighting, damaged infrastructure and a Russian maritime blockade.

Wall Street Journal editors Vivian Salama and Bojan Pancevski reported in Saturday’s paper that “Officials are also looking for solutions to recirculate Ukraine’s growing grain stocks because full silos must be emptied before harvesting.

“Kyiv accused Russia of seizing Ukrainian grain, an allegation supported by the US State Department, which has sent cables to several governments in recent weeks urging them not to accept Ukrainian grain allegedly looted by Russia . Moscow denies the charges.

The Journal article added that “most Ukrainian exporters now use railways to poland to transport their cereals and other agricultural products, as well as Romanian Port of Constantaaccording to officials and grain producers.

David E. Sanger reported in The New York Times on Sunday that “leaders [meeting at the G7 summit in Germany, and then NATO, beginning Wednesday in Madrid] are also expected to spend a lot of time discuss global agriculture and how to increase the global food supplywhile war cuts access to essential sources of food for rich and poor countries alike.

“So far, the Biden administration efforts at find a way out of Ukraine for its agricultural products lack. Russia is doing what it can to tighten the noose, in what appears to be an effort to bring the country of President Volodymyr Zelensky to economic collapse.

Eli Stokols reported on the front page of today’s Los Angeles Times that, “[G7] Sunday’s meetings focused on the impacts of the war – rising inflation, energy disruptions and worsening food shortages – as well as rolling out a revamped infrastructure bank aimed at providing developing countries with financing alternatives to China’s $4 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, which has been criticized for increasing corruption and violation of labor, environmental and other standards.

Meanwhile, New York Times writer Patricia Cohen reported in the Saturday newspaper that “The bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine, a breadbasket for the world, has caused upheaval in world grain markets. Coastal blockades have trapped millions of tons of wheat and corn inside Ukraine. With famine raging in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, a a frenzied rush for new suppliers and alternative shipping routes is underway.

“’Because of the war, there are opportunities for Romanian farmers this year,’ [Catalin Corbea, a Romanian producer] said through a translator.

The question is whether Romania can take advantage of this by developing its own agricultural sector while helping to fill the food gap left by landlocked Ukraine.

The Times article stated that “In many ways, Romania is well placed. Its port of Constanta on the western Black Sea coast has provided a critical – albeit tiny – transit point for Ukrainian grain since the start of the war. Romania’s own agricultural production is dwarfed by that of Ukraine, but it is one of the largest grain exporters in the European Union.

Last year he sent 60% of its wheat abroad, mainly to Egypt and the rest of the Middle East. This year, the government has allocated 500 million euros ($527 million) to support agriculture and maintain production.

“Yet this Eastern European nation faces many challenges: its farmers, while benefiting from higher prices, are cope with skyrocketing costs of diesel, pesticides and fertilizers. Transport infrastructure across the country and at its ports is neglected and outdated, slowing the transit of its own exports while hampering Romania’s efforts to help Ukraine come to an end around the Russian blockades.

Cohen explained that “As the bulk of the Romanian crop begins to arrive at the terminals in the next couple of weeks, the congestion will get significantly worse. Every day, 3,000 to 5,000 trucks will arrive, causing reversals for miles on the highway to Constantasaid Cristian Taranu, general manager of terminals managed by Romanian port operator Umex.

Elsewhere, Bloomberg writers Abdel Latif Wahba and Tarek El-Tablawy reported on Sunday that “Egypt plans to reduce wheat imports by 500,000 tons per year, or about 10%by getting more subsidized bread from its grain, Supply Minister Aly El-Moselhy said.

“The move comes as one of the world’s largest wheat importers grapples with soaring commodity prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Egyptian officials seek to increase their dependence on local wheat production in order to reduce the import bill.

Dow Jones writer George Mwangi reported last week that “Egypt’s wheat imports fell 24% between January and May this year, compared to the previous year period”, the US Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday.

And Reuters editor Sarah El Safaty reported yesterday that “Egypt has strategic wheat reserves sufficient for 5.7 monthsSupply Minister Aly Moselhy told a press conference on Sunday, adding that the country had so far purchased 3.9 million tonnes of wheat in the local crop.

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