The United Nations World Food Program has warned that millions of people in developing countries and conflict zones are on the brink of starvation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one of the biggest exporters of wheat in the world.
He calls on Canada and other major wheat exporters to open their silos to urgently fill the shortage, which he says could lead to millions of people going hungry in countries like Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan. .
The United Nations program and many countries in the developing world, including Lebanon and Bangladesh, depend on Ukraine, known as the breadbasket of Europe, for its wheat supply.
But soaring grain costs and disrupted supplies from Ukraine and Russia have raised alarms about a global food crisis.
Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau will take part in an emergency meeting of her G7 counterparts on Friday to discuss the impact of the Russian invasion on global food security.
Bibeau said Canada is aware of the gravity of the situation, is monitoring it closely and wants to help.
“The global wheat supply chain has been significantly affected by this conflict,” Bibeau said in a statement.
“While Canada, as the world’s leading agri-food exporter of many key commodities, works with its allies on how it can contribute to the effort, Canadian wheat production has been significantly reduced due to the drought in the UK. year and there is not a significant amount of uncommitted wheat available on the market until the next harvest.”
Arif Husain, chief economist of the World Food Programme, said the aid organization itself procured 789,000 tonnes of wheat from Ukraine last year.
He added that another 158,000 tons came from Russia. The organization also buys wheat from Canada, one of its main donors.
Canada urged to help as millions face #famine due to #Russia’s invasion of #Ukraine. #UkraineRussia #UkraineInvasion #ukraineconflict
He called on Canada and other grain exporters to step in to fill the void either by donating from their stocks or selling their supplies at discounted prices to aid agencies.
“It’s as bad as it gets,” Husain said.
“There is a need for major producers like Canada, like Australia, to open their hearts and provide wheat to aid agencies. Five million people in Yemen alone are literally one step away from starvation.”
The price of wheat has risen sharply since the start of the war, making it more expensive for developing countries, aid agencies and other importers.
Shipping companies that usually transport grain and vegetable oil from Ukraine and Russia cannot safely approach the ports.
Husain said they have also seen their insurance costs go up, as well as the skyrocketing cost of fuel.
He said the higher price of wheat will also make it more expensive to buy it and distribute it to the world’s poor and displaced people, which now includes Ukrainians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his visit to London on Monday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was having a “ripple effect” around the world, including on the United Nations World Food Programme.
Sandra McCardell, assistant deputy minister at Global Affairs Canada, told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee last week that the federal government was “looking into contingencies” for the expected food shortage.
“It won’t just be about Ukraine and Russia and we absolutely have to be ready,” she said on March 3.
Dave Quist, executive director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, said Ukrainian farmers will have a hard time sowing their seeds and it is doubtful that those who successfully sow their fields will be able to harvest in August or September.
He also said that many Canadian farmers had already brought in seeds to plant other crops this spring, so it was difficult for them to sow short-term wheat instead.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 9, 2022.