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WFP in talks with India on wheat procurement amid global food security concerns over Ukraine war

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The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has said it is in talks with India over wheat purchases as the country faces food security challenges amid the war in Ukraine.

“We are negotiating with India on wheat procurement. So that’s what’s going on, “World Food Program chief economist Arif Hussein told a news conference on Wednesday.

He answered a question about the fact that India has a huge surplus of wheat and whether the organization is doing anything to use these reserves with India as the Russian-Ukrainian war worsens the global food security situation.

On another question about whether to suspend the World Trade Organization’s restrictions on how much India can export amid the current emergency, Hussein said one recommendation was whether it be the World Food Program, the IMF, the World Bank or even the World Trade Organization. , it is about exempting the World Food Program from an export ban.

He noted that a couple of weeks ago, these organizations called on governments not to impose export bans, which then artificially increased the price and availability or reduced the availability of basic goods. “So this is a very important recommendation, and I hope the countries will listen,” he said.

Wheat production in India was 109.59 million tonnes in the 2020-21 agricultural year (July-June).
Earlier this year, India began shipping wheat supplies to Afghanistan. India has pledged to supply Afghanistan with 50,000 tonnes of wheat grain to be delivered by Pakistan’s land route. The grain will be delivered to the UN World Food Program for supply to the Afghan people.

The World Food Program released on Wednesday the Global Food Crisis Report 2022, in which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine was “fueling” a three-dimensional crisis – food, energy and financial – with devastating consequences for the world’s most vulnerable groups. people, countries and economies.
“All this is happening at a time when developing countries are already struggling with cascading problems that they are not doing – the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and insufficient resources amid persistent and growing inequality,” he said.

The report says hunger levels remain alarmingly global. In 2021, they surpassed all previous records, according to the Global Food Crisis Report (GRFC), with nearly 193 million people in 53 countries / territories experiencing food insecurity and in need of urgent assistance. This means an increase of almost 40 million people compared to the previous high reached in 2020.

The report warns that the forecast of acute global food security in 2022 is expected to worsen further compared to 2021.
“In particular, the war unfolding in Ukraine is likely to worsen the already harsh acute food security forecasts for 2022 included in this report, given that the impact of the war on world prices and supplies of food, energy and fertilizers is still most analyzes of forecasts at the national level were not taken into account, ”the statement reads.

In 2021, almost 70 percent of the total number of people in crisis or worse or equivalent were found in ten countries / territories of the food crisis: Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Yemen, northern Nigeria, Syrian Arab Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan and Haiti. In seven of them, conflict / uncertainty was a major cause of acute food security.

The report also adds that while Bangladesh continues to struggle with economic recovery after two years of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and the accompanying economic consequences since late February 2022 have had reactionary effects on the markets. Bangladesh imports 10.7 percent of its total food imports from the Russian Federation and 4.5 percent from Ukraine. It is one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, annually purchasing about 6 million tons, mostly from India, Canada, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

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