July 18, 2023
“The global food security has been imperiled by the stopping of the concession to allow exports of food and fertilizer from Ukrainian ports to the rest of the world”, said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International.
In a press release, Mehta said that the Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports, popularly known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, was signed by Türkiye, the Russian Federation and Ukraine in late July 2022.
The deal, coming against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, was facilitated by the good offices of the United Nations Secretary-General. It aimed to secure safe navigation of vessels carrying grain and related foodstuffs and fertilisers for export from identified Ukrainian ports amidst the ongoing conflict.
The agreement was renewed by the parties on a periodic basis, till now, finally lapsing on 17 July, 2023. As per data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Black Sea Grain Initiative successfully enabled safe shipment of more than 32 million tonnes of food commodities from Ukrainian Black Sea ports to 45 countries across three continents, thereby keeping global food prices in check and combating food insecurity. With the agreement now ceasing to be in effect, safe carriage of foodgrain and fertiliser shipments from Ukrainian Black Sea ports to the rest of the world remains uncertain.
“The lapse and termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative will imperil global food security. The WTO DG has called for ensuring that global food security does not become a casualty of war, and we fully endorse and support her stand”, said Mehta
“Given the prevailing volatility in global agricultural trade and the escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, we are looking at a precarious future for global food security in the coming months. Least-developed countries and net food-importing developing countries will be particularly vulnerable”.
Mehta also urged the government of India to play a proactive role in bringing all parties back to the negotiating table. “Prime Minister Modi should lead global efforts to restart talks on ensuring safe exports of food and fertiliser from the embattled region. Furthermore to continue all efforts to end the conflict”, he said.
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