UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed the importance of reintegrating food and fertilizer products from Ukraine and Russia into world markets.
In a video message for a Berlin ministerial conference on global food security, Guterres warned that multiple famines could be declared in 2022 and that 2023 could be even worse, reports Xinhua news agency.
The main costs to farmers are fertilizers and energy. Fertilizer prices have risen by more than half in the past year, and energy prices by more than two-thirds. All harvests will be hit, including rice and corn, affecting billions of people across Asia, Africa and the Americas, he said.
“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage. No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”
The current crisis goes beyond food and requires a coordinated multilateral approach, with multi-dimensional solutions, he said.
There can be no effective solution to the global food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production, as well as the food and fertilizers produced by Russia, into world markets despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, he said.
Guterres said he has been in intense contact with Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, the US, the European Union and others on this issue.
UN Conference on Trade and Development Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths are continuing the talks, aiming to achieve a package deal that will enable Ukraine to export food, not only by land but through the Black Sea, and will bring Russian food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions, he said.
Solving the food crisis requires solving the financial crisis in the developing world, said Guterres.
Hundreds of millions of people on the poverty line have been crushed by this crisis. Developed countries and international financial institutions need to make resources available to help governments support and invest in their people, he said.
Developing countries that face debt default must have access to effective debt relief to keep their economies afloat and their people thriving. Financial institutions must find the flexibility and understanding to get resources where they are needed most, he said.
“We need strong political and private-sector leadership for a coordinated multilateral response. We cannot accept mass hunger and starvation in the 21st century,” said Guterres.