9 December 2023
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ABUJA: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he was seeking talks to get Ukraine and Russian agriculture and fertilizer production back into world markets to help end a “three-dimensional” crisis the Ukraine invasion is causing for developing nations.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and economic sanctions on Moscow have disrupted supplies of wheat and other food supplies from both countries and pushed up fuel and diesel prices to impact inflation, especially in developing nations.

Russia and Ukraine are top exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower oil while Russia is the world’s top supplier of key fertilizers and gas.

“There is really no true solution to the problem of global food security without bringing back the agriculture production of Ukraine and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world market despite the war,” Guterres said in a visit with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja.

“I am determined to see everything to facilitate dialogue that can help achieve these objectives.”

Guterres said the impact had set in motion “a three-dimensional crisis that is devastating global food energy and financial systems for developing countries”.

The International Monetary Fund said last month the war in Ukraine had already significantly impacted the Middle East and North Africa, with the crisis dealing a heavy blow to low-income countries.

The IMF also warned surging food and energy prices stoked by the conflict in Ukraine may lead to “social unrest” in Africa.

Many countries south of the Sahara were already seeing a slowdown in economic growth from last year after the pandemic, and the impact will be amplified by the rising cost of cereals and fuel, the IMF said.

Food prices monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) surged 12.6 percent between February and March, reaching their highest levels since the index was launched in 1990, the UN’s agency said last month. The previous record high was set in 2011.

Africa is highly dependent on imports for 85 percent of its wheat consumption, and this dependence is especially high in Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Mozambique.

Abdul Gh Lone