PARIS (Reuters) -Global efforts to avoid a food crisis start at Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and Kyiv needs assurances that they will not be attacked to resume grain shipments, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday.
Grain shipments from Ukraine, a major exporter, have fallen sharply since Russia’s invasion, sparking fears of food shortages in the most vulnerable countries.
“We need to unblock the millions of tonnes of cereals that are stuck there because of the conflict. The United Nations’ and Turkey’s mediation efforts are significant steps,” Draghi said in a speech at an OECD ministerial meeting in Paris.
“We have to offer President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy the assurances he needs that the ports will not be attacked,” he added.
Russia says shipments are being prevented by mines planted by Ukraine in its own harbours, and that western sanctions and global supply chain problems are causing the risk of a global food crisis.
Together with surging energy prices, rising food prices are contributing to higher inflation in rich countries, prompting central banks to raise interest rates, said Draghi, who previously headed the European Central Bank.
He said energy prices needed to be reduced and that a price cap on Russian gas imports discussed last week by EU leaders would help keep inflation down and boost Europeans’ incomes as well as reduce the flow of funds to Moscow.
(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Edmund Blair and Toby Chopra)