Global food markets must remain open, without export restrictions, to ensure supplies to poor countries in particular, after the Ukrainian conflict caused surging prices and tight supplies, said German agriculture minister Cem Özdemir.
“Markets must remain open,” Özdemir said on German television ZDF.
A global food crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalated this week, with food export restrictions announced by a growing list of key producing countries seeking to keep vital food supplies within their borders.
G7 Agriculture Meeting
Özdemir was speaking ahead of a meeting of agriculture ministers of the G7 group of nations, hosted by Germany on Friday, to discuss the consequences of the Ukrainian conflict for global food security. Germany currently holds the G7 presidency.
“We must ensure that the grain which is available is available fairly, at affordable prices,” Özdemir said.
Grain importers globally have been hit by surging prices, following a sudden stop to grain exports from Ukraine and a sharp reduction from Russia, after the conflict closed ports, with Moscow terming its actions a ‘special operation’.
Wheat Prices Spike
Wheat prices leapt to 14-year highs. Russia and Ukraine provide nearly 30% of global wheat exports and are also important suppliers of edible oils.
Özdemir was concerned at the impact of rising prices and tight supplies on the world’s poorest countries, including disruption to food aid shipments from the World Food Programme, the United Nations’ massive humanitarian aid organisation.
“Many countries depend on supplies from Russia and Ukraine,” he said. “For the World Food Programme, it is even more drastic, with 50% [of supplies] coming from the two countries.”