‘Intense diplomatic efforts’ continue to ensure food and fertilizers reach those in need

Sri Lanka. Fields lay fallow as fertilizer and fuel shrotages make cultivating unprofitable
© WFP/Josh Estey
Sri Lanka. Fields lay fallow as fertilizer and fuel shrotages make cultivating unprofitable

‘Intense diplomatic efforts’ continue to ensure food and fertilizers reach those in need

Peace and Security

The first shipment of fertilizer donated by Russian producers to countries hit hard by rising global food insecurity, has left the Netherlands bound for Malawi, the UN Spokesperson said in a statement on Tuesday.

Stéphane Dujarric reiterated that the UN welcomed the donation of 260,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer which has been stored in European ports and warehouses, “which will serve to alleviate humanitarian needs and prevent catastrophic crop loss in Africa, where it is currently planting season.”

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The first shipment of 20,000 tonnes left the Netherlands on a World Food Programme (WFP-chartered vessel, MV Greenwich on Tuesday, and is due to dock in Mozambique, when it will then be transported to landlocked Malawi.

More shipments coming

It will be the first of a series of shipments of fertilizer destined for a number of other countries on the African continent in the coming months”, added Mr. Dujarric.

WFP said in a statement issued earlier in the month, when the deal stemming from an agreement in July, alongside the successful Black Sea Grain Initiative, was first announced, that the world urgently needed “concerted efforts” to solve the global food supply crunch, which has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two countries are key food and fertilizer exporters to developing world markets, and WFP said that smallholder farmers have been particularly hard hit by rising costs, inflation and supply chain blockages.

“We cannot allow global fertilizer accessibility problems to become a global food shortage”, said WFP. “Reconnecting fertilizer markets is critical.”

‘For global food security’

In the statement from his Spokesperson, UN chief António Guterres thanked Russia, Malawi and the Netherlands - in close coordination with the European Union – “for their willingness to enable this first critical humanitarian shipment of fertilizer by WFP, for global food security.”

Mr. Dujarric said the UN was “continuing intense diplomatic efforts with all parties to ensure the unimpeded exports of critical food and fertilizers from Ukraine and the Russian Federation, exempt from sanction regimes, to the world markets.”

‘Half of humanity’

Some 50 per cent of the world’s population depends on agricultural products that involve fertilizers. Since 2019, prices have shot up by around 250 per cent, pricing many farmers out of production.

Mr. Dujarric used the example of nitrogen-based fertilizers, where this year’s shortages could result in a production loss next year, of a staggering 66 million tonnes of staple crops, such as maize, rice and wheat.

That’s enough to feed 3.6 billion people, “almost half of humanity, for a month”, he said.

Reconnecting fertilizer markets is a critical step to ensure global food security for 2023 and the United Nations will continue to make every effort, with all parties, to achieve this goal.”