Food Security

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:15 pm on 31st March 2022.

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Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee 3:15 pm, 31st March 2022

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I say to Deidre Brock that it is a great thing that she has secured today’s debate on food security. Like her and many others in the House, I have talked a lot about food security, which is now more necessary than ever. I, like her, want to talk a little about what is happening in Ukraine and about global food security.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put Ukrainian agriculture under threat and issues with food security are being inflicted on the Ukrainian people, who are also dealing with a murderous invading force. Ukrainian farm workers have been deployed to fight on the frontline; infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, has been damaged, making it hard for goods to be transported across the country; and there are fuel shortages, as usually Ukraine gets 70% of its petrol and diesel from Russia and Belarus.

There is also a risk that the conflict may disrupt or stop the spring planting season, which is due to start now. There is shrapnel in the field, which will cause problems for farm machinery, and President Zelensky himself recently said that Russian troops are mining fields in Ukraine, blowing up agricultural machinery and destroying fuel reserves needed for sowing, which is absolutely dreadful. The President has said that Ukraine has access to around one year’s supply of food. That creates problems for food security beyond that time period and has a knock-on effect on global food security, because Ukraine needs to stockpile what it would normally export.

Ukraine produces a sixth of the world’s corn exports, 20% of global maize, 50% of global sunflower oil and 12% of the world’s wheat exports. The Black sea port in the south of Ukraine has now been completely shut down, taking about 12% of global wheat out of the market. Around 400 million people across north Africa and the middle east rely on wheat from Ukraine.