Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact on global food security, said Group of Seven agriculture ministers on Sunday in a communique that called for expansion of Ukrainian grain shipments via the Black Sea Grain corridor that is exempt from attack.
The G7 ministers also said they were ready to aid the reconstruction of Ukrainian agricultural facilities damaged by the war.
At the end of a two-day meeting in Japan, the ministers included the war in Ukraine with the pandemic and climate change in a list of causes of a “challenging global food and nutrition situation.” They condemned the invasion as “illegal, unprovoked and unjustified.”
“We are deeply concerned about the devastating impact the war is having on food security globally, not least through price spikes in grains, fuel and fertilizers, which is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable,” the communique read, noting the war was estimated to increase world hunger by 10.7 million people. “In this context, we strongly support the extension, full implementation and expansion of BSGI (Black Sea Grain Initiative).”
More than 25 million tonnes of grain and food products have been shipped from Ukraine under the Black Sea initiative, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey with Russia. Half of the exports were corn and 27 percent were wheat. The grain corridor went into operation on July 27, 2022, and has been renewed twice, most recently on March 19.
Ukraine is a major wheat and corn exporter, and is No. 1 in exports of sunflower oil. “Over 65 percent of wheat exported through the Black Sea Grain Initiative reached developing nations,” said the European Commission in March. “Maize is exported equally to developed and developing countries.” The United Nations said the World Food Program purchased more than 480,000 tonnes of wheat for shipment to hunger hot spots around the world.
While Russia agreed to a 120-day lifespan for the Black Sea agreement in its first two iterations, it has insisted the March agreement will expire on May 18 after 60 days. Negotiations for an extension have been fruitless so far. Russia has said if faces unfair constraints on exports of grain and fertilizer; the West says there are “carve outs” for the products in its sanctions on Russia. Farmers in eastern Europe have complained that shipments of Ukrainian grain into their countries drove down prices. In response, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have barred the imports.
“We stand ready to support the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, including by sharing our experience, knowledge and expertise regarding de-mining of agricultural land, and by reconstruction of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation, warehouses and food processing facilities destroyed by Russia,” said the ministers.
Members of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the European Union as a “non-enumerated member.” Russia was removed as a member of the group following its seizure of Crimea in 2014.
The G7 agriculture ministers’ communique is available here.
The UN website for the Black Sea Grain Initiative is available here.