Home Business time is running out to avoid the return of the food riots

time is running out to avoid the return of the food riots


“The war in Ukraine has created the perfect conditions for a global food crisis that could last for years,” alerted the Allianz Trade research center in mid-June. Before the war, Ukraine supplied 12% of the world wheat market, 15% of corn and 50% of sunflower oil. It produces enough to feed 400 million people a year, 10 times its population.

The outbreak of the war last February caused a general rise in agricultural prices of around 20%, when they were already at their highest. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report, 193 million people in 53 countries experienced food insecurity in 2021, a figure up that year from 40 million. people. War in Ukraine threatens “millions more people”according to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.

These populations are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, a region that imports 85% of its wheat consumption, but also in a number of fragile countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Philippines or Tunisia. . The risk is that this price increase will again lead to social unrest. The concern is all the more acute as prices are now above their 2010 level, at the time of the Arab Spring.

General mobilization of Heads of State

The fear of seeing food riots again occur is at the top of the concerns of the Heads of State who are meeting in the European Council in Brussels, Thursday June 23, and who will meet on Sunday June 26 in Germany for the G7 summit. Meanwhile, Germany has also convened a food security conference in Berlin on Friday 24 June.

The leaders of the developed countries are all the more in a hurry to organize a response as the subject gives rise to a communication battle with Russia. This does not hesitate to point the finger at the developed countries, accusing them of being responsible for this situation. At the St. Petersburg Forum on June 17, Vladimir Putin thus launched: “We all hear about Putin’s alleged inflation… But our actions to liberate Donbass have nothing to do with it. It is rather the result of the systematic errors of the American administration and the European bureaucracy. »

Russia blames sanctions for driving up prices. She blames the Western countries, taxed as selfish, for having, with their recovery plans, “printed, distributed money and raked all goods from third country markets” or proceeded to “the forced introduction of biofuels”which cuts off production intended for food…

Read:  In Germany, a G7 to try to cushion the shocks of the war in Ukraine

Africa hostage

To this, the Europeans reply that the main cause of the rise in prices is first and foremost Russian aggression which prevents Ukraine from exporting through its ports on the Black Sea. They recall that Russian wheat and fertilizer exports are not subject to the sanctions. “Africa is hostage to those who started the war”, accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in return by videoconference to members of the African Union. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Russia « play (has) with hunger in the world” by blockading Ukrainian ports and deliberately targeting Ukrainian storage facilities, such as on June 22 when Russian missiles destroyed giant silos in the port of Mykolaiv, with a capacity of 160,000 tonnes.

Turkey has obtained a UN mandate to negotiate the reopening of Ukrainian ports. It is trying to set up a maritime corridor that would free up the 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain stuck in the silos. There is urgency, because we have to free up space for the next harvest, which should arrive at the end of the summer. But these negotiations have little chance of succeeding, insofar as Russia is asking, in return, for an easing of sanctions.

While waiting for a hypothetical liberation of the Ukrainian ports, the European Union has mobilized to get the grain out by truck and train. However, the gauge of the railway tracks, different in Ukraine, requires long transhipments. The land route allows only one-fifth of what can be transported by ship to leave each month. The United States has also offered to create giant silos in Poland, to prevent Russia from stealing or destroying the grain. But that doesn’t solve the transport problem…

The other reason for the rise in prices

The NGOs rather invite us to look on the side of speculation. They point out that despite the cessation of Ukrainian exports, there is enough production in the world to feed the whole planet. But the fear of running out leads some countries to build up stocks and block their exports, while market players take advantage of this to speculate on the rise.

Read:  gas, an energy weapon difficult to handle

On the eve of the G7, CCFD-Terre solidaire and Foodwatch launched a petition asking heads of state to take measures to prevent “investment funds, banks and traders” to do “Rising food prices and worsening hunger”.

“Today, there is an absolute need for more transparency on stocks, in particular for private players who have no obligation in this area, explains Jean-François Dubost, from CCFD-Terre solidaire. And we also need to regulate the markets more, given the consequences for the populations. » The authors of this petition would like the London, Chicago and Euronext stock exchanges, which fix the price of agricultural products, to limit positions up or down, to discourage purely speculative behavior.

France ready to commit

The Élysée says it intends to “carry this topic” at the G7 heads of state summit. France also wants “Mobilize the private sector for more transparency and stability in the markets. No one wants to be a war profiteer… Many private actors are already involved in the subject”explains the Presidency of the Republic.

The G7 countries could also decide on new funding for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations agency dedicated to the development of agriculture. It is about helping African countries to produce more, so that they are less dependent on imports. The European Union has already planned to invest an additional 600 million euros to help the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean to overcome the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.


The causes of food insecurity

Violence and conflict are the main drivers of hunger, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme, in a June 2022 report.

Added to this are extreme climatic events, such as tropical storms, floods and drought.

The war in Ukraine, which is disrupting food and energy supplies, has contributed to pushing up prices that have already been on an upward trend since mid-2020.

The FAO index, which summarizes the world prices of a basket of basic food products, rose to 157.4 points in May 2022, surpassing the previous highs of 132.5 and 137.6 recorded during the food crises. from 2007-2008.

Previous articleFinal Fantasy 7 Remake: If you want to buy the game on PC, here’s why you need to do it now
Next articleLuminar Neo: ditch Lightroom for this powerful AI photo editor 📍