29 October 2022 Peace and Security
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has reaffirmed his “unwavering commitment” to agreements aimed at ensuring that grain and fertilizers from Ukraine and the Russian Federation reach global markets at the speed and price needed to avert a global food crisis and ensure food security.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, an agreement brokered by the UN and Türkiye in July, which was set up to reintroduce vital food and fertilizer exports from Ukraine to the rest of the world, is due to run out in the second half of November, but it can be extended, if all parties, including Russian and Ukraine, agree.
In a statement released on Friday, Mr. Guterres promised that the UN is continuing its active and constant engagement with all parties towards that goal. “We underline the urgency of doing so to contribute to food security across the world”, he said, “and to cushion the suffering that this global cost-of-living crisis is inflicting on billions of people.”
“If food and fertilizers do not reach global markets now, farmers will not have fertilizers at the right time and at a price they can afford as the planting season begins, endangering crops in all regions of the world in 2023 and 2024, with dramatic effect on food production and food prices worldwide. The current crisis of affordability will turn into a crisis of availability.”
Mr. Guterres reiterated the positive impacts of the Black Sea Grain Initiative so far: since it was signed, exports of grain and other food products – which are closely monitored by the Joint Coordination Centre, comprising representatives from the Russian Federation, Türkiye, Ukraine and the UN – have surpassed nine million tonnes.
It has also contributed to the lowering of the price of wheat and other commodities, which had soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: the FAO Food Index, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities, has declined for seven months in a row and, according to UN estimates, has indirectly prevented some 100 million people from falling into extreme poverty.
The UN chief urged all parties to make every effort to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative and implement both agreements to their fullest, including the expedited removal of any remaining impediments to Russian grain and fertilizer exports.
“Governments, shipping companies, grain and fertilizer traders and farmers all over the world are now looking for clarity on the future”, he declared.