Millions of people will starve to death unless Russia allows the export of Ukrainian grain from blockaded ports, foreign ministers from the G7 have said.
The G7 governments said the Russian president was pushing 43 million people towards famine by refusing to allow cereals to leave Ukraine via Black Sea ports.
Canada’s foreign minister, Mélanie Joly, told reporters: “We need to make sure that these cereals are sent to the world. If not, millions of people will be facing famine.”
Before the war, Ukraine and Russia accounted for a third of global wheat and barley exports. Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s ports have been blocked and civilian infrastructure and grain silos destroyed.
Adding to the problem, India, the world’s second largest producer of wheat, has banned all exports with immediate effect after a heatwave affected the crop. In addition, India’s vast stocks of wheat, a buffer against famine, an extensive food welfare programme that usually feeds more than 80 million people, have been strained by distribution of free grain during the pandemic to about 800 million people,
The rise in global prices for wheat was threatening the food security of India and neighbouring and vulnerable countries. A key aim is to control rising domestic prices. Global wheat prices have increased by more than 40% since the beginning of the year.
India had set a goal of exporting 10m tonnes of the grain in 2022-23, looking to capitalise on global shortage of wheat supplies from the war and find new markets for its wheat in Europe, Africa and Asia. Much of that would have gone to other developing countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.