New York [US]: Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Wednesday (May 18) expressed concern over global food insecurity while addressing the high-level Ministerial meeting on ‘Global Food Security-Call to Action’ in New York.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken chaired the ‘Global Food Security-Call to Action’ in New York.
The Union Minister said that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Russia-Ukraine impacted the developing countries with spiralling energy and commodity prices and disruptions in global logistical supply chains.
During his speech, Muraleedharan pointed out the Global Report on Food Crises and said that according to the 2022 report, 139 million people had suffered across the world from conflict-induced acute food insecurity, up by around 30 per cent reported previously. He further stated that this situation is a severe issue, and it can’t be neglected.
“We all need to work collectively together to alleviate the sufferings of the most affected,” the Union Minister added.
Referring to the Ukraine conflict, Muraleedharan said that the food security challenges emanating inter alia from the conflict need a creative response. He further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed on calling for a diplomatic solution through the constructive dialogue between the two sides while discussing with the respective leadership.
“Further, we have noted Secretary General’s initiative of establishing a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG). We appreciate Secretary General’s call for exempting purchases of food by World Food Programme for humanitarian assistance from food export restrictions with immediate effect,” the Union Minister said.
During his speech, Muraleedharan said that low-income societies are confronting the twin challenges of rising costs and difficulty in access to food grains. “Even those like India, who have adequate stocks, have seen an unjustified increase in food prices. It is clear that hoarding and speculation is at work. We cannot allow this to pass unchallenged,” he added.
The Union Minister noted the sudden spike in global prices of wheat had put the food security and the neighbouring countries and other vulnerable countries at risk.
“We are committed to ensuring that such adverse impact on food security is effectively mitigated and the vulnerable cushioned against sudden changes in the global market. In order to manage our own overall food security and support the needs of neighbouring and other vulnerable developing countries, we have announced some measures regarding wheat exports on May 13, 2022,” Muraleedharan said.
Muraleedharan said that these measures allowed the export on the basis of approvals to those countries that are required to meet their food security demands. He further said that this would be done at the request of the concerned governments, and such a policy will ensure that India will truly respond to those who are most in need.
Referring to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the Union Minister said that India is donating 50,000 Metric tonnes of wheat. He further said that for Myanmar, India has continued its humanitarian support, including a grant of 10,000 tons of rice and wheat.
In view of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, Muraleedharan said, “We are also assisting Sri Lanka including with food assistance, during these difficult times. In keeping with our ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, (the world is one family) and our Neighbourhood First Policy, we will continue to assist our neighhbours, in their hour of need, and stand by them, always.”
“There is an urgent need for the donor community, to scale up assistance to conflict-affected countries and to ensure that humanitarian agencies receive the necessary funding to fully execute their plans without politicization of basic needs of the people,” he added.
Muraleedharan said that India is strongly committed to the cause of global food security and also has contributed to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UNOCHA in response to various humanitarian crises over the years.
“Our spearheading of the UN General Assembly Resolution for declaring Year- 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets’ was aimed at addressing similar such food security challenges,” he said.
In conclusion, Muraleedharan said, “Let me emphasize that India will play its due role in advancing global food security. And it will do so in a manner in which it will uphold equity, display compassion and promotes social justice. I thank you Mr. President.” (ANI)