Martina “Food prices are rising, war leads to hunger” Italpress News Agency

ROME (ITALPRESS) – “War always leads to hunger, and hunger always threatens to lead to new conflicts”. Maurizio Martina, deputy director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in an interview with La Repubblica, sounds the alarm on the global food emergency.
“Italy – he explains – certainly does not risk like other more fragile countries, even if we have important quotas, in particular of corn, which come from Ukraine. If anything, for us the problem is above all the explosion of energy costs also in the agri-food sector with the consequent increase in prices throughout the supply chain”.
“The conflict has created another very problematic tear and a new urgency – he adds -. And certainly the sooner this tragedy ends, the better, also for the prospects for global food security.”
“The health emergency of the last two years has already aggravated hunger and malnutrition – he underlines -. The drastic nature of climate change then worsened agricultural conditions everywhere. Unfortunately, the war has further aggravated the situation. The world is heading towards an increase in chronic hunger for millions of people, our first estimates give between 7 and 13 million new chronically hungry.
“There is a double dimension – adds Martina -. The first concerns the humanitarian emergency for millions of refugees and conflict-affected citizens who are at risk of not receiving daily food support. The other aspect is linked to the fact that Ukraine and Russia are major agricultural countries, exporters of wheat, barley, corn, sunflower seeds. They traditionally export to developing countries, in areas such as North Africa, the Middle East, Asia. 50 countries receive from Russia and Ukraine more than 30% of the wheat they consume every day. This tragic moment of war blocked the transport of productions: the ports of the Black Sea are stopped and these productions no longer arrive in countries where stocks are decreasing and food insecurity is increasing. We are talking about realities such as Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, the Congo. Prices are obviously increasing, because quantities are decreasing: this is a dangerous short-circuit in already delicate socio-economic contexts. Our alert also concerns the consequences for food security in contexts far from the conflict”.
“Italy – says Martina – has other levels of agricultural imports from Russia and Ukraine, not so disruptive. We risk a direct effect on corn because we import about 13% of it and an indirect effect on wheat precisely because of the role that Russia and Ukraine have in world trade. Italy’s problem is the explosion of energy costs also in the agri-food sector. For our crops we need fertilizers which have very high costs and this also has an impact on the increase in prices”.
“From an Italian point of view, the government is doing well by putting in place useful actions to help on the energy front and certain agricultural policies can also help to keep the situation under control. The best response lies in the qualitative leap of European policies which also strengthen our production capacity”, continues Martina, stressing that “the effect of this conflict on agricultural markets is disruptive”. “We are in a very difficult context. As Minister Patuanelli said, Italy does not have a direct food emergency, but an explosion in production costs also in the agri-food sector, and a very uncertain overall picture. The danger that many small and medium-sized agri-food companies will find themselves in great difficulty is real,” he concludes.

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