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Davos Elite Plan to “Fun­da­men­tally Change the Way Food Is Pro­duced And Consumed”

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More on the world food situation

From Global Research

Africa and the Mid­dle East is set to suf­fer more than Europe if there is a reduc­tion of grain exports, accord­ing to the head of the Bel­gian fed­er­a­tion of cereal traders and agro­sup­ply (FEGRA), Gisele Fichefet. Her com­ment was said in response to Russ­ian Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Dmitry Patru­shev’s August 5 warn­ing that 50 mil­lion tonnes of grain might be forced off the mar­ket because this year’s crops did not reach the 130 mil­lion tonne target.

I don’t expect major prob­lems in Europe in both cat­e­gories of grain, for cat­tle breed­ing and for human con­sump­tion, since this year’s crops were excel­lent despite the drought at the end of the sea­son. The prob­lems, if they arise, will be in the Mid­dle East and Africa, and maybe in some coun­tries of South­east Asia,” Fichefet said.

Rus­sia, the world’s largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine, the fifth largest exporter of the same prod­uct, col­lec­tively account for more than one-​third of global cereal exports and a half of the world’s sun­flower oil export mar­ket. In addi­tion, UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion (FAO) data found that Rus­sia was the num­ber one exporter of nitro­gen fer­tilis­ers in 2021, and many Euro­pean and Cen­tral Asian coun­tries rely on Rus­sia for over 50% of their fer­til­izer supply.

FAO pre­dicted in March that sup­ply dis­rup­tions in Rus­sia and Ukraine could affect up to 30% of the wheat sup­ply in some 50 coun­tries, many of them being low-​income coun­tries in Africa, the Mid­dle East and South­east Asia.

Fichefet believes it was “not so much a price prob­lem, as a deliv­ery issue” as price fluc­tu­a­tions had not been more than 20% up or down since the start of the Ukrain­ian con­flict. Although prices sta­bilised fol­low­ing the UN-​brokered deal between Rus­sia, Ukraine and Turkey, Fichefet warned this sce­nario could change if Moscow cuts grain exports.

On July 22, Rus­sia, Turkey and the UN signed an agree­ment that unblocked Ukraine’s grain and fer­tiliser exports amid hos­til­i­ties. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment signed a sim­i­lar doc­u­ment with Ankara and UN representatives.

In addi­tion, Rus­sia signed a mem­o­ran­dum with the UN to con­tribute to the export of Russ­ian fer­tilis­ers and agri­cul­tural prod­ucts to inter­na­tional mar­kets. UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral António Guter­res, mean­while, announced the cre­ation of the joint coor­di­na­tion cen­tre to ensure the safety of bulk car­ri­ers trans­port­ing grain from Ukrain­ian ports, such as Odessa.

The even­tual release of funds from Russ­ian banks frozen by the sanc­tions against Moscow for its oper­a­tion in Ukraine could help stop a poten­tial food cri­sis being insti­gated by the short­age of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts. Although Fichefet believes Europe is mostly pro­tected from a poten­tial food cri­sis, a desta­bilised global sit­u­a­tion can become unsus­tain­able for Europe.

On July 19, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­posed to unblock some of the funds in Russ­ian banks to resume trade in agri­cul­tural and food prod­ucts. The sanc­tions against Moscow caused the global rise in the prices of oil, gas and fer­tilis­ers. This has not only had a neg­a­tive impact on Rus­sia, but also the US and EU.

There has been a boomerang effect from the sanc­tions imposed by the West, specif­i­cally on the EU, which are the ones now suf­fer­ing the most. Alarm­ingly though, the EU never con­sid­ered that its mea­sures against Rus­sia could also lead to famine and a sub­se­quent migra­tion cri­sis in African and Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries. Europe since 2015 has already expe­ri­enced a migra­tion cri­sis due to all the con­flicts that the US started in the Mid­dle East and Africa, includ­ing Libya, by want­ing to change the region geopolitically.

Egypt is already one of the world’s top wheat importers, buy­ing around 75% of its sup­ply from Ukraine and Rus­sia. The war in Ukraine has seen wheat prices in Egypt soar, prompt­ing Pres­i­dent Abdel Fat­tah el Sisi to urge the gov­ern­ment to deter­mine a fixed price for unsub­sidised bread, which started at the end of March.

In a speech on May 21, Sisi referred to the Quran’s Surah Yusuf about the neces­sity to “store up wheat for famine”, draw­ing a par­al­lel between the present cri­sis to the famine dur­ing Prophet Joseph’s time. He also urged Egyp­tians to pri­ori­tise wheat plant­ing rather than wast­ing this resource.

Cairo is also con­cerned by the Grand Ethiopian Renais­sance Dam being con­structed on the Blue Nile River. This project has received huge oppo­si­tion from Egypt and Sudan as it could impact farm­land down­stream and insti­gate a drought. Such a sce­nario will not only increase inter­nal pres­sures in Egypt, but cou­pled with simul­ta­ne­ous crises across Africa, the coun­try could become a tran­sit point for migrants attempt­ing to reach Europe.

There­fore, although the EU may feel com­fort­able by its own sup­ply of grains, it risks insti­gat­ing another migra­tion cri­sis by con­tin­u­ing with reck­less sanc­tions against Rus­sia that sig­nif­i­cantly affects African and Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries from secur­ing grain.

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Ahmed Adel is a Cairo-​based geopol­i­tics and polit­i­cal econ­omy researcher.

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