The UN World Food Program is warning that millions of people in the developing world and conflict zones are on the brink of starvation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest exporters of grain.
It is asking Canada and other major wheat exporters to open up their silos to urgently fill the shortage of wheat, which it warns could lead to millions going hungry in countries including Afghanistan, Yemen and Sudan.
The World Food Program and many countries in the developing world, including Lebanon and Bangladesh, rely on Ukraine, known as the breadbasket of Europe, for their wheat supplies.
On Friday, Canada’s Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau will attend an emergency meeting of G7 agriculture ministers to discuss the impact of the Russian invasion on global food security.
Marianne Dandurand, a spokeswoman for the minister, says Canada is very aware of the serious situation and wants to help.
Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, says 789 million metric tonnes of its wheat last year came from Ukraine.
He says the spike in the cost of wheat following the Russian invasion will make it more expensive to buy to distribute to the world’s poor.
Husain urged Canada, as a major exporter, to help urgently fill the gap by donating its grain and selling it at a discount to help feed millions relying on food aid to survive.
—The Canadian Press