German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said the G7 group of industrialised nations was urgently seeking alternative routes for the export of Ukrainian grain as Russia’s war against its western neighbour raised the risk of a global “hunger crisis”.
Speaking at the conclusion of a three-day meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Germany, Baerbock said some 25mn tonnes of grain were stuck in Ukrainian ports that were being blockaded by Russian forces — “grain that the world urgently needs”.
“Every tonne we can get out will help a bit to get to grips with this hunger crisis,” she said. “In the situation we’re in, every week counts.”
Wheat prices have been soaring in recent weeks over supply concerns caused by the Ukraine war, as well as a number of droughts around the world.
The US Department of Agriculture forecast that global supplies for the coming crop year would fall for the first time in four years.
Worries about the supply situation deepened on Saturday when India announced it was banning wheat exports, a move that is likely to push up food prices and fuel hunger in poor countries that rely on imports of Indian grain.
The government in New Delhi said the ban was designed to “manage the overall food security of the country”.
The issue of food emerged as one of the key issues in the G7 ministers’ weekend deliberations. Their final communique said Russia’s war had “generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history, which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe”.
It said the G7 was “determined to accelerate a co-ordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and stand by our most vulnerable partners in this respect”.
Baerbock said the easiest way to resolve the food crisis would be for Russia to stop its combat operations and allow grain out of Ukrainian ports, a move that would help to “normalise global food prices”. But she said Russian president Vladimir Putin…
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