The conflict in Ukraine and record fertilizer prices could leave “billions of people” in Asia and South America facing food shortages, Guterres said
High cost of fertilizer as a result of hostilities in Ukraine threatens to have a shortage of all major crops, this could affect “billions of people”, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
“Food prices are at an all-time high. Fertilizer prices have more than doubled, worrisome everywhere. Without fertilizer, corn and wheat shortages will spread to all major crops, including rice, with a devastating impact on billions of people in Asia and South America. he said.
As the Secretary General of the organization noted, the food crisis this year is largely due to a shortage of fertilizers, which next year may result in a food shortage.
Fertilizer prices rose after Russia launched a special operation in Ukraine. In April, the European Union restricted the import of Russian fertilizers. The quota for potassium chloride will be 837.57 thousand tons, for other fertilizers containing potassium— 1.57 million tons. Imports of potash fertilizers are limited by the EU and from Belarus.
In turn, the Russian authorities at the end of May extended the quotas for the export of mineral fertilizers until December 31 of this year. The decision affected nitrogen (a quota of more than 8.3 million tons) and complex fertilizers (more than 5.9 million tons). Quotas are needed in order to prevent a shortage of fertilizers in the Russian market and help avoid rising prices for products, the government noted. The restrictions will not apply to the supply of fertilizers to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
On May 16, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources, that Guterres proposed to ease restrictions on the export of Russian and Belarusian potash fertilizers to exchange for the passage of ships with grain from the ports of Ukraine; according to the publication, he discussed this issue with Russia and Turkey. The UN World Food Program previously reported that about 25 million tons of grain “stuck” in Ukraine due to infrastructure problems and “blocked Black Sea ports”.
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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Russia is the world's largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine ranks fifth. Together they provide 19% of the world's supply of barley, 14%— wheat and 4%— corn.
According to the World Trade Organization, Russia and Ukraine account for 24% of world wheat supplies.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the supply of Russian potash fertilizers and the export of Ukrainian grain are being discussed, but “not at the UN level.” The day before, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that in order to solve the problem with the export of grain, it is necessary that Ukrainians release ships from their ports by either clearing mines or identifying safe corridors.
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