One of the topics that attract the attention of the participants of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum will be the discussion of how the global food agenda is seen in the new geopolitical conditions.
The deterioration of the situation on food markets and the growing number of hungry people in the world have been registered by the specialized structures of the UN system for several years already. In the last year, the problem has been exacerbated by sharp price hikes, including those for fuel and fertilizers.
The number of people chronically undernourished in 2022 is estimated at a record 828 million. At the same time 49 million people, most of them in the Sahel countries, but also in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria, were on the brink of starvation. Three billion people had no access to healthy food. Negative trends in global food security are undermining countries' efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Ending Hunger) on time.
Western countries are trying to blame Russia for the food security crisis. They claim that this is the effect of a special military operation in Ukraine. However, they do not take into account the fact that this situation was caused by ill-considered actions in the financial, economic and energy spheres of Western countries. The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as low food supplies and adverse weather conditions, have had a significant impact on the current state of world markets.
In fact, the situation is exacerbated by the unprecedented sanctions crackdown on Russia, which threatens to have catastrophic consequences for the global food sector. Economic pressure measures against our country have led to an imbalance in the international food market, provoking in particular high price volatility.
According to UN estimates, there are no acute food shortages at present. The main problems are related to its distribution and the price situation.
As for the latter factor, the situation is gradually improving. Thus, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in May this year published updated data on the global index of food prices - the world food prices fell by 22.1% to their lowest level since March 2022 (the cost of goods is reduced due to the fall in price of grain, vegetable oil and dairy products).
Russia remains a responsible international supplier of agricultural goods.
The importance of Russian food and fertilizers for socio-economic development and achievement of food security indicators in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East is great. As long as the unlawful obstacles artificially created by the West that Russian economic operators encounter in their foreign economic activities (trade restrictions, admission of Russian ships to European ports, insurance, financial wiring) are not eliminated, it is hardly possible to restore the normal functioning of supply chains and solve other tasks related to ensuring global food security.
Our country continues to provide humanitarian aid (including food aid) to foreign populations in need. In 2014 Russia acceded to the Food Aid Convention. We undertook to provide minimum amounts of food aid in financial and in kind through bilateral and multilateral channels amounting to no less than 15 million US dollars a year. Russia significantly exceeds this commitment. Since 2020 our country has provided assistance to the developing and least developed states in different regions of the world to the amount of 200 million US dollars only through the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
Rector of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia,
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the UK (2011-2019) Alexander Yakovenko.