singer222_Chris McGrathGetty Images_grain ukraine Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Feed People, Not Factory Farms

There can be no excuse for Russia, in pursuit of its war of aggression against Ukraine, to target that country’s grain exports, knowing that this will drive up grain prices and increase hunger among people in countries far from the conflict. At the same time, the world already produces more than enough grain to prevent food insecurity.

MELBOURNE – After Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, ships used to export grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports stopped traveling there because they were liable to be attacked by Russian forces, which suspected them of carrying military supplies. That caused grain prices to soar to record levels and sparked fears of famine in countries in the Middle East and Africa that had previously imported Ukrainian grain, especially wheat.

Eventually, in July 2022, Russia agreed to give ships traveling to and from Ukraine safe passage, on the condition that Russian officials could inspect them. During the 11 months that the Black Sea Grain Initiative was in effect, Ukraine exported 33 million tons of grain, and world food prices declined by approximately 20%. According to the United Nations, 57% of the exported foodstuffs went to developing countries.

But now Russia has withdrawn from the arrangement. When Russia announced that it would let the agreement expire on July 17, the price of grain rose by 8%. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that millions of people would now be facing hunger, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “Russia is responsible for denying food to people who are desperately needy around the world.” In Kenya, the government described Russia’s conduct as a “stab in the back” for people in drought-stricken countries (a group that currently includes Kenya).

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