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World trade chief predicts food riots in poor countries due to war in Ukraine

By Lisa Vives | Global Information Network | Trice EdneyWire

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

(GIN/TEW) – Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the head of the World Trade Organizer, warns that soaring world food prices following the war in Ukraine could trigger food riots among hungry people in the poor countries.

WTO Director-General Okonjo-Iweala urged food-producing countries not to hoard supplies and said it was vital to avoid a repeat of the Covid pandemic, when wealthy countries have been able to obtain most of the vaccines.

In an interview with The Guardian of the UK, the WTO Director General noted the dependence of many African countries on food supplies from the Black Sea region.

“I think we should be very worried. The impact on food prices and hunger this year and next could be substantial. Food and energy are the two main items in the consumption basket of the world’s poor,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

“It is the poor countries and the poor in poor countries who will suffer the most.”

Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister, said 35 African countries depended on imported food from the Black Sea region, adding that Russia and Ukraine were responsible for 24% of the world’s wheat supply.

After strongly criticizing the “vaccine apartheid” that has plagued Africa during the pandemic, she said WTO member states must resist the temptation to protect their own food stocks.

“It’s a natural reaction to keep what you have – we’ve seen that with vaccines. But we shouldn’t make the same mistake with food.

The last time rising food prices sparked food riots was between 2006 and 2008. Protests erupted in developing countries as the prices of a wide range of food, oil and other commodities have increased dramatically, in some cases more than doubling in a few months. . Policy makers faced the challenge of simultaneously addressing hunger, poverty and political instability.

In Africa, food riots swept the continent, from Egypt and Tunisia in the north, to Burkina Faso and Senegal in the west, and to Madagascar and Mozambique in the south (Fig. 1). The crisis has reinforced the

the extent to which oil and food markets have become highly interdependent, and has highlighted the relative inability of national governments and the international community to adequately address

dramatic spikes in food prices.

“We need to make sure we learn from the lessons of vaccines and previous food crises,” Ms Okonjo-Iweala said. “I’m not sure we can fully mitigate the impact of the war in Ukraine because the numbers involved are huge, but we can mitigate some of it.” with photo by N. Okonjo-Iweala

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