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People's Daily Online

UN warns of potential global food crisis due to Russia-Ukraine conflict

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 08:39, June 02, 2022

STOCKHOLM, June 1 (Xinhua) -- The Russia-Ukraine conflict could lead to a global food crisis that will hit developing countries the hardest, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in Stockholm on Wednesday.

Guterres met with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to discuss the security situation in Europe, recovery from the pandemic and the green transition.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is creating suffering and devastation, and "must end now," Guterres said at a press conference after the meeting.

He also called for swift decisions to counter the food crisis that could arise from the conflict, putting developing countries most at risk.

The situation is fueling "a three-dimensional global crisis for food, energy and finance" that is affecting "the most vulnerable populations, countries and economies," he warned. A "perfect storm" is threatening to destroy the economies of many developing countries," he added.

The food crisis cannot be resolved effectively unless Russia's manure and food production, and Ukraine's food production can reach world markets again, he emphasized.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Russia and Ukraine are the world's largest and fifth-largest wheat exporters, respectively. Together, they provide 19 percent of the world's barley supply, 14 percent of wheat and 4 percent of maize, making up more than one third of global cereal exports.

In Ukraine, which is known as the breadbasket of Europe, the conflict has left unharvested wheat that was planted months ago, while maize and sunflowers sown when the conflict broke out were left unfertilized. It is estimated that Ukraine's grain production may fall by more than 50 percent in the current season.

Moreover, Russia is the leading producer of fertilizers, accounting for 13 percent of global production. Restrictions on Russian fertilizer exports due to the U.S.' sanctions have led to a surge in global fertilizer prices. This has forced farmers in Brazil, the United States and other major agricultural countries to reduce their use of fertilizers, which could affect future harvests.

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