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Global Food Crisis Looms With Ukrainian War

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A global food crisis looms unless the war in Ukraine is stopped because fertiliser prices are soaring so fast that many farmers can no longer afford soil nutrients.

Russian fertiliser and coal billionaire Andrei Melnichenko gave the warning on Monday.

“The events in Ukraine are truly tragic. We urgently need peace,” Melnichenko, 50, who is Russian but was born in Belarus and has a Ukrainian mother, told Reuters in a statement emailed by his spokesman.

“One of the victims of this crisis will be agriculture and food,” he said.

Melnichenko is the founder of EuroChem, one of Russia’s biggest fertiliser producers, which moved to Zug, Switzerland, in 2015, and SUEK, Russia’s top coal producer.

Russian leader Putin has also predicted rising food prices globally due to soaring fertiliser prices if the West created problems for Russia’s export of fertilisers, which account for 13% of world output.

Russia is a major producer of potash, phosphate and nitrogen containing fertilisers – major crop and soil nutrients.

EuroChem, which produces nitrogen, phosphates and potash, says it is one of the world’s top five fertiliser companies.

The war “has already led to soaring prices in fertilisers which are no longer affordable to farmers,” Melnichenko said.

Food supply chains already disrupted by COVID-19 were now even more distressed.

“Now it will lead to even higher food inflation in Europe and likely food shortages in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.

Russia’s trade and industry ministry told the country’s fertiliser producers to temporarily halt exports earlier this month.

International food and feed prices could rise by up to 20% as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, triggering a jump in global malnourishment, the United Nations food agency said on Friday.

Several of Russia’s richest businessmen have publicly called for peace since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion on Feb. 24, including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and Oleg Deripaska.

The United States and its European allies have cast Putin’s invasion as an imperial-style land grab.

They have sanctioned Russian businessmen – including EU sanctions on Melnichenko, frozen state assets and cut off much of the Russian corporate sector from the global economy in an attempt to force Putin to change course.

Putin refuses to withdraw. He has called the war a special military operation to rid Ukraine of dangerous nationalists and Nazis.

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