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While Russia refuses to extend its participation in the Black Sea Grain Agreement, Action Against Hunger condemns the use of this agreement for political purposes and hopes that its renewal will meet the needs of countries facing food insecurity.
The grain agreement signed by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations has enabled the export of over 33 million tonnes of grain since July 2022. This agreement has played a key role in stabilizing grain prices on international markets, by limiting speculation.
“Since it was signed, the Diplomatic Grain Initiative has helped to stem the rise in wheat prices on the markets, which had risen by more than 40% in the 3 months before it was signed,” comments Anne Garella, Regional Director of Operations for Action Against Hunger.
A year and a half after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, staple food prices on the markets have returned to their pre-war levels, or even decreased compared to 2021, showing that the volatility of international prices can be the object of significant speculation.
Extended for 120 days in November 2022, it was then renewed for only 60 days in March and May 2023, becoming increasingly volatile and moving away from its original vocation of guaranteeing access to cereals for the most vulnerable countries.
“We need this agreement to be a long-term one if it is to have any real impact, and if the hunger of thousands of people around the world is not to become a political weapon at regular intervals,” adds Anne Garella.
Of all the grain exported by Ukraine, China, Spain and Turkey remain the main beneficiaries. Even though, thanks to the agreement, developing countries account for 57% of these exports, just under 6% of total exports benefited less developed countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen and Sudan, where there are high levels of food insecurity.
In addition to its role as a price regulator, the Black Sea Grain Initiative also played a crucial role in guaranteeing a ceasefire in the Odessa area. This calmed the conflict, ensuring humanitarian access and saving lives by preventing the city and port from being targeted.
More than ever, this agreement is necessary and must be extended over the long term to meet the needs of countries facing food insecurity. The regular politicization of hunger and the mobilization of the global food crisis for geopolitical ends are particularly worrying, while the humanitarian system remains constantly underfunded and food systems fail to guarantee the right to food for all.
About Action Against Hunger’s intervention in Ukraine:
To date, more than 480,000 people have benefited from Action Against Hunger’s programs in Ukraine and its three neighboring countries (Poland, Romania, Moldova). Right from the start of the conflict, Action Against Hunger’s emergency teams began responding to humanitarian needs in conjunction with partners in Ukraine and neighboring countries. Today, Action Against Hunger’s response aims to provide assistance to the most vulnerable people in Ukraine and to refugees in the three neighboring countries, in liaison with local authorities and organizations, while adapting our operational response according to the evolution of the conflict.
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