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The FAO deputy director emphasized the importance of unblocking Ukrainian ports for grain traffic.
According to Maurizio Martina, deputy director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the number of people suffering from acute malnutrition in the world could rise to 220 million, due to the deficit of staple foods and fertilizers on the global market as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
Speaking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the former Italian Minister of Agriculture pointed out that "even before this conflict, hunger in the world was growing."
"Almost 200 million people in 53 countries in 2021 moved to a daily situation of acute hunger, an increase of 40 million people in just twelve months. This war will further aggravate the scenario, our first estimates indicate an increase of another 18 million people, but it is clear that much will also depend on the evolution of the conflict," Martina explained.
According to the official, at least six million tons of wheat and some 14 million tons of corn are blocked in Ukrainian ports. "If these blocked tons are not released, food insecurity will continue to increase," he warned.
#Russia | Moscow has warned against putting together an international naval coalition to make sure ships with grain leave Ukrainian ports amid an alleged Russian blockade in the Black Sea.https://t.co/2sElBYMT3b
In addition to commodities such as wheat and maize, the FAO deputy director emphasized the negative effect of prices and fertilizer availability.
"If prices remain so high and access becomes increasingly difficult for agriculture in developing countries, the impacts will be very problematic with drastic decreases in yields," he said.
Martina also said that transporting agricultural products by alternative routes - "trying to organize grain shipments to Romania using trucks to ship them from there to the Danube Delta - "cannot compensate for port activities."
"There is also a risk that there will no longer be suitable places to store the next crops in June. We need the ports to reopen to move the large quantities needed," he assured.
#UPDATE Moscow is ready to make a "significant contribution" to averting a looming food crisis if the West lifts sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said in a telephone call with Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi https://t.co/O3Av33GFTupic.twitter.com/dhTOH4TThS
Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin labeled accusations against Russia about problems in supplying agricultural products to world markets as unfounded, explaining that the difficulties were due to failures in production and logistics chains, as well as financial policies of Western countries.
In this context, he said in a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Moscow is ready to contribute "significantly" to the solution of the food crisis, exporting cereals and fertilizers, provided that the sanctions imposed by some countries as a result of the Russian military operation are lifted.