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Just 10 weeks of wheat in global stocks, UN warned

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The world has just 10 weeks of wheat supplies after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine cut off supplies from the ‘breadbasket of Europe’.

The United Nations has been warned that global wheat stocks have fallen to their lowest level since 2008.

Official government estimates put global wheat stocks at 33 percent of annual consumption, but stocks may be down as much as 20 percent, according to agricultural data company Gro Intelligence.

It is estimated that there are only 10 weeks of the world wheat supply left in stock.

Russia and Ukraine account for around a quarter of world wheat exports, and the West fears Mr Putin is trying to weaponize the food supply.

Russia is on track for a strong wheat harvest this year, cementing Putin’s grip on the staple grain as bad weather spoils production in Europe and the US.

Sara Menker, chief executive of Gro Intelligence, said the global food supply was being hit by fertilizer shortages, climate disruption and record low stocks of cooking oils and grains.

She told the UN Security Council: “Without substantial, immediate and aggressive coordinated global action, we risk suffering both human suffering and economic damage on an extraordinary scale.” That’s not cyclic, that’s seismic. It is a once-in-a-generation event that can dramatically reshape the geopolitical age.”

The war has disrupted agricultural production and sent food prices to record highs around the world, fueling fears of unrest in the developing world.

The wheat crisis was made worse by India, the world’s second largest producer, which banned exports of the grain and caused farmers to pay higher prices for fertilisers, feed and fuel.

Western officials also fear the Russian president is deliberately trying to damage the food supply by destroying equipment and stealing grain in Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that Mr Putin is “using food as a weapon”.

“The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has been held hostage. Some 20 million tons of grain sits unused in Ukrainian silos as global food supplies dwindle (and) prices soar.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is tightening its grip on wheat stocks after a strong harvest. Carlos Mera, head of agricultural commodities research at Rabobank, said mild conditions in Russia – which accounts for about a fifth of global wheat exports – put it on track to produce 84.9 million tonnes of grain this year.

Conditions for western growers have been affected by dry conditions. The southern prairie region of America, the base of the “wheat belt” that runs through central America, is suffering from persistent drought conditions.

Meanwhile, Russia will stop exporting natural gas to Finland from today, just two days after Helsinki applied for NATO membership in response to security concerns sparked by the Kremlin invasion of Ukraine. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, yesterday confirmed its move to Finnish company Gasum. Russia was expected to cut supplies around 4am today.

Moscow said it made the decision because Finland refused to pay for gas in rubles, which the Putin regime demanded after Western sanctions were imposed.

However, the export stop, which came after Russia stopped supplying gas to Bulgaria and Poland, is likely to be related to Finland’s accession to NATO. Although Finland mainly uses Russian gas, it accounts for only a small percentage of its total energy consumption.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will launch a diplomatic offensive in Europe to highlight Ankara’s opposition to Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids.

He will speak to officials in London and Helsinki today, as well as the NATO chief, about his concerns about the Nordic countries joining the defense alliance.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/just-10-weeks-worth-of-wheat-in-global-stockpile-un-warned-41672939.html Just 10 weeks of wheat in global stocks, UN warned

Fry Electronics Team

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