A food crisis appears to be a global prospect as Russian ships have blockaded the port at Odesa in Ukraine, preventing exports of grains, oils and other important products. But not only is Ukraine struggling to ship out these products to the rest of the world, but it is also struggling to domestically produce as Russia is “destroying its food stocks”.
Now, a critical shortage of seeds, diesel, pesticides and fertilizers is ravaging the country.
Brussels has said it is working with Ukrainian authorities to help bring these products to farms and ensure transport and storage of the harvest.
But according to a Ukrainian diplomat, the EU is not helping enough.
The diplomat told Politico: “We [still] don’t get enough supplies.”
But they did recognise that the bloc was still providing a helping hand, small may it be.
This comes after the European Commission published a paper on the current global food security situation ahead of a meeting between EU agriculture ministers today (May 24).
The Commission wrote in the paper: “Food security in war-torn Ukraine is of great concern, particularly as Russia seems to be deliberately targeting and destroying food stocks and storage locations.”
The paper adds: “The UN Appeal estimates that up to 18 million people will be affected in Ukraine, including up to 6.7 million who will be newly internally displaced.
“Food shortages in cities and millions of refugees and displaced persons call for urgent food aid to Ukraine.
“Humanitarian actors, such as the World Food Programme, are providing food assistance and scaling-up operations.
And a particularly big build-up of Russian navy ships is said to be occurring at the port city of Odesa, with over 20 Russian vessels stationed in the Black Sea.
This is a worry for the EU, as Ukraine has been dubbed the “breadbasket of Europe” due to its large export volumes of wheat, sunflower oil and grains to the continent.
This has sparked staggering price rises and fears of a global crisis, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief issuing a horror warning this week.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the World Economic Forum that “anxiety around access to food at reasonable prices is hitting the roof”.
She also warned that prices are continuing to “go up and up” and stressed that the world is “on the brink of a food crisis”.
But Ukraine has stressed that it will first need to prioritise the safety of its own supplies before it can worry about Europe.
Senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Sergii Leshchenko has said: “This year, we’re going to have much less harvest…but it’s important to [have a harvest], at least to cover internal needs.”
Mr Leshchenko said the country is trying to work its way around the Odesa blockade by opening up new export routes to the West via train and from small ports along the Danube River.