The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) has said that it is in discussions with India on procurement of wheat as countries face food security challenges amid the Ukraine war.
“We are in discussions with India on procurement of wheat. So, that is something which is ongoing,” World Food Programme’s Chief Economist Arif Husain said at a news conference. He was responding to a question on India having a huge surplus of wheat and whether the organisation was doing anything to utilise this stockpile with India as the Russia-Ukraine war exacerbates the global food security situation.
He noted that a couple of weeks ago, these organisations encouraged governments not to put export bans which then artificially increased the price and availability or reduced the availability of major staple commodities.
India’s wheat production stood at 109.59 million tonnes in the 2020-21 crop year (July-June). Earlier this year, India began sending shipments of wheat to Afghanistan. India has committed to supplying 50,000 tonnes of wheat grain to Afghanistan, which will be delivered through Pakistan’s land route. The grain will be delivered to the UN agency World Food Programme for supply to the Afghan people.
The World Food Programme launched the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises Wednesday in which UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the war in Ukraine is “supercharging” a three-dimensional crisis – food, energy and finance – with devastating impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people, countries and economies.
“All this comes at a time when developing countries are already struggling with cascading challenges not of their making – the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and inadequate resources amidst persistent and growing inequalities,” he said.
The report said that globally, levels of hunger remained alarmingly high. In 2021, they surpassed all previous records as reported by the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries/territories. This represents an increase of nearly 40 million people compared to the previous high reached in 2020. The report warned that the outlook for global acute food insecurity in 2022 is expected to deteriorate further relative to 2021.