Sébastien Abis, director of the club Demeter, a think tank specializing in agricultural issues, estimated on franceinfo on Tuesday 15 March that a “Part of the planet, given its food needs, may look twice before speaking to the United Nations” about Russia, because of the food addiction of some. Sebastien Abis believes that “the entire food planet is looking at the consequences after 12, 18 months” of the war in Ukraine “with worries”as the country is a major grain producer worldwide.
franceinfo: The UN fears “a hurricane of famine” with the war in Ukraine: are these the right words?
Sebastien Abis: These are strong words from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who rightly emphasizes that the crisis in Ukraine, in an extremely severe context of a pandemic that has already weighed heavily on agricultural and food balances for two years, is entails. planet. We have had this crisis for 19 days in Ukraine with a chain reaction in agricultural markets and fear for the food supply in a number of countries. Ukraine is an important productive agricultural power. We have grown 2 billion inhabitants on the planet in 20 years. The planet is hungry and the whole planet is not geographically homogeneous.
“Some countries, such as Ukraine, which produce a lot, release a significant export surplus: of 110 million tons of field crops, cereals or protein crops, Ukraine will bring 80 million tons onto the world market.”Sébastien Abis, director of the Demeter club, a think tank specializing in agricultural issues
It is wheat, maize, sunflower, barley, rapeseed… All these basic commodities in food for humans or animals, Ukraine exports many of them to international markets, which are reacting strongly in this pandemic context, but also in the short term because of the lack of Ukrainian origin . The boats are not loaded, the Ukrainian coast is quite fighting and we have an uncertainty on the horizon: as the production capacity in Ukraine is currently limited, it is not clear where this country will be able to produce and harvest the usual quantities in the coming years. months.
What are the consequences at an international level?
The entire food planet is worried about the consequences after 12, 18 months. You have countries in North Africa, in the Middle East, in sub-Saharan Africa, which buy half of their wheat, for example, from Russia or Ukraine. Since the origin of the Black Sea is missing today, you will affect the price of bread, which will rise very quickly in certain countries.
“When the price of food explodes, you have an increased capacity for socio-political instability.”Sebastien Abis
In countries where you are not a democracy, if the bastion of food security breaks down, you have every reason to protest in the streets and take all the risks to challenge power that does not meet basic needs.
Which countries could be most affected by rising food prices?
There will be concerns in countries like Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, which imports 60% of its wheat from Russia and 40% from Ukraine. The rising tonne of wheat means a rising import bill and the government has enlisted help to contain the price increases.
“Today we are between 380 and 420 euros per tonne of wheat. Before the conflict broke out 19 days ago, we were at 280 to 300 euros per tonne and in the spring of 2020 we were around 150 euros per tonne . . “Sebastien Abis
You have an explosion of prices, and for the buying countries it is very unsustainable. If all this remains above 300 euros, it will be very complicated for the purchasing countries. The Arab Spring, 10 years ago, was in a context of 400 euros per tonne: if it lasts, it will be very difficult.
Russia limits grain exports to four ex-Soviet republics to avoid shortages and price explosions: what are the possible consequences?
This could have consequences for these countries. The announcement in Russia concerns the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, which buy some of their wheat from Russia. We will have to keep an eye on the consequences for these countries. It is certain that, no doubt in the coming weeks, Russia will keep a close eye on it, which will remain docile and quiet on the diplomatic front, so as not to criticize the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine, in order to possibly perpetuate the grain flows to hold. One can hold a grain tap in the same way as other power taps, and keep it powered up or at more advantageous prices depending on the alliances and loyalties that arise. Part of the planet, given its food needs, may think twice before speaking out at the United Nations.