The US food ambassador has warned that the global food price crisis will continue this year, and supplies will not be secure until the Russian invasion of Ukraine ends.
Cindy McCain, the US ambassador to the United Nations’ food and agricultural agencies, called the crisis “enormous…the worst food crisis, the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II” and warned that some countries in Africa were on the brink of famine. It blamed the price hike squarely on Russia, and President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
McCain also warned that US funding for UN agencies working to ease the food crisis is likely to be “tight” this year, and urged speculators in financial markets not to take advantage of the turmoil to drive prices up further.
Food prices have retreated from their peaks last year, raising hopes that the crisis — which has seen rampant food price inflation in both the developed and developing worlds, and shortages of staples in some countries, following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago. – can go down.
“The fact that food prices are going down doesn’t mean this crisis is about to end,” McCain said. “We’re looking forward to some tough times. That will be the spring planting season.” [in Ukraine]. There is no way they can cultivate because of the invasion and because of the destruction of land and machinery.”
She added that grain exports in the region also stopped due to the Russian measures. We couldn’t get a lot of beans out. Normally we can put out close to 20 million tons, and we’re nowhere near that number. There are more than 100 ships waiting to enter [to Black Sea ports]. So this crisis is not over yet, and with regard to food and food security, it has only worsened. “
Several factors combined to create the crisis in the aftermath of the Russian invasion. Ukraine is not only a major exporter of grains and vegetable oils, but also fertilizers, and the sharp rise in energy prices caused by Russia’s threats to gas supplies has also pushed up the cost of food production. Many countries were already in a precarious situation regarding food supplies due to the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
McCain said the effects were global. “It has a multiplier effect. It extends to Africa, and it affects countries that cannot feed themselves in any way. It affects all of us,” she said.
“We are very close to famine in a large part of Africa right now, although I think we can avoid that a little bit in Yemen. Famine is a catastrophic state to be in. And again this whole [the result of] What did Russia do?
Some food experts have warned that speculation in commodity markets, where financial traders bet on food prices, and the dominance of a small number of firms in physical trading in commodities such as grains, helped push prices higher.
Asked if the speculation had an effect, McCain said, “It probably is. I say that without a lot of accurate information, but sometimes there are bad players.”
It declined to say whether such speculation should be sanctioned, but said it would oppose it. “You can’t afford it – people are starving. Speculation does no one good during a crisis.” [We need to] Constantly reminding the world that food security is a national security problem. Not only does this have societal implications, it has national security implications.”
McCain warned that funding from the United States for both research and international food efforts could shrink this year. Referring to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the United Nations World Food Program, and sister organizations that deal with food issues, she said, “We’re going to see less funding because there’s a financial crisis here. It’s going to be a tight year.”
McCain also warned that the climate crisis is affecting food. The widow of John McCain, the former Republican senator and presidential candidate, spoke of her home state of Arizona, saying, “Climate change is a big part of this.” [food crisis]. Where I come from, there is no water. However, there are golf courses everywhere. So at some point we have to step back and say, what is the correct use of this? Should we put all this aside, should we do something different? “