Ukraine’s food supply chain is collapsing, a senior UN World Food Program (WFP) official has warned.
Jakob Kern, WFP’s emergency coordinator for the Ukraine crisis, told a press briefing in Geneva via video link from Poland that key infrastructure, such as train lines, bridges and airports, have been destroyed or damaged and many grocery stores and warehouses are empty.
Press Agency Reuters reports it saying, “The country’s food supply chain is collapsing. Goods movements have slowed due to insecurity and the reluctance of drivers.
Kern also expressed concern about the situation in “surrounded towns” such as Mariupol, saying supplies were running out and WFP convoys had been unable to enter the town.
He went on to say that the WFP is concerned about the impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security around the world, especially in hunger hotspots. He warned of “collateral hunger” in other places.
Yesterday (17 March), the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said the war in Ukraine was already driving up food prices and a shortage of staple crops in parts of Central Asia, of the Middle East and North Africa.
IFAD has suggested that food shortages or price hikes risk pushing millions more into poverty, pointing out that around a third of global wheat exports come from Russia and Ukraine. The Middle East and Africa imports more than half of its grain supplies from Russia and Ukraine, the fund added. Russia is also the largest fertilizer producer in the world.
Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD, said: “I am deeply concerned that the violent conflict in Ukraine, already a catastrophe for those directly involved, will also be a tragedy for the world’s poorest people living in areas rural areas that cannot absorb price increases. staple foods and agricultural inputs that will result from disruptions in global trade. We are already witnessing price hikes and this could cause an escalation of hunger and poverty with disastrous consequences for global stability.
IFAD’s analysis shows that price hikes in staple foods, fuel and fertilizers and other ripple effects of the conflict are having a “disastrous impact” on the poorest rural communities.
He gives the example of Egypt where wheat and sunflower oil prices have soared due to its dependence on Russia and Ukraine for 85% of its wheat supply and 73% of its sunflower oil.
IFAD said it was working closely with governments, rural communities and other partners to explore ways to scale up global support to the most affected regions.
But Houngbo said: “In the short term, however, it will be difficult to mitigate the global impacts of this crisis. I join the UN Secretary-General’s call to end the conflict now and restore peace. This is the only solution to avoid a global catastrophe.
For more of Just Food’s coverage of how the dispute is affecting the food industry, please visit our dedicated microsite.