War in Ukraine has ‘catastrophic effect’ on global food supply and prices: USAID administrator
Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, says the costs of the war in Ukraine include global shortages of food and fertilizer, which are impacting prices for consumers and farmers around the world. .
“It’s just another catastrophic effect of Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Power told ABC “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.
Food prices are up 34% from the same period last year, Power said, “helped significantly, again, by this invasion.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden asked Congress to consider providing Ukraine with an additional $33 billion in aid package, including $3 billion earmarked for humanitarian assistance and food security funding.
“We went to Congress asking for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance…so we could meet those needs,” Power said. “But we are also active, of course, in more than 80 countries around the world, well and outside of this crisis. So we are working with farmers to also increase their production so that you actually have more supply on the market. “
“But we really need this financial support from Congress to be able to meet the emergency food needs,” she later added, “so that we don’t see the cascading deadly effects of the Russian war. expand in Africa and beyond”.
Russia and Ukraine are mass producers of wheat and cereals. Power said sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East could rely on more than 80-90% of wheat and grain imports from countries at war.
Not only are there food shortages around the world, but there is also a growing demand for fertilizers from farmers looking to protect their crops.
“The fertilizer shortages are real now because Russia is a big exporter of fertilizer. And even though fertilizer isn’t sanctioned, less fertilizer is coming out of Russia,” Power said. “As a result, we are working with countries to think about natural solutions like manure and compost. And that can speed up transitions that would have been in farmers’ interests anyway.”
Stephanopoulos insisted, “Listening to you lay out these consequences, it’s hard not to conclude that in some ways this has already become a kind of world war.”
“Certainly in terms of effects, not limited to the horrors that the Ukrainian people are experiencing,” Power replied.
Power, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, said she was less concerned about displaced Ukrainian refugees flooding into neighboring European countries and more concerned about the dire situation within Israel’s borders. Ukraine.
“I think the biggest challenges lie in Ukraine,” Power said. “It goes without saying that in places like Mariupol that haven’t received significant humanitarian aid for two months, there are people dying of starvation, of dehydration,” she said.
“You’ve seen images this week of babies wearing diapers which are plastic bags stuck together like diapers and women so cold they’re in this steel mill wearing steel mill worker uniforms, shaking, having been injured, no access to trauma care,” she added. “I mean, those are the real horrors that are being perpetrated right now.”
Power pushed back against the idea that the high food prices are due to the Biden administration’s sanctions on Russia, saying it’s instead the result of Russia’s “reluctance to come to the negotiating table now.” .
“That’s what’s causing these cascading effects,” she said, “so we want to address those effects, but continue to ensure that that pressure is exerted on the Russian Federation through economic sanctions and security assistance to finally broker a peace.”