OECS Ministers of Agriculture acknowledge that war in Ukraine will have serious implications for region’s food supply

Samantha Marshall, the Minister of Agriculture, is warning residents that the war in The Ukraine will adversely impact food availability and prices here and in the rest of the region.

Marshall sounded this warning at an OECS Commission Special Meeting of the Ministers with responsibility for Agriculture.  It was convened to address the expected negative impact of the war and to craft joint mitigation actions.

Marshall, who chairs the OECS Council of Ministers: Agriculture, referenced Arif Husain, the Chief Economist at the UN World Food Programme, who spoke of the devastating consequences of the conflict and its anticipated impact on grain and oil prices.

The Minister says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Price Index reached 140.7 points in February 2022 – exceeding the record set in February 2011.

Meanwhile, the Cereal Price Index reached 144.8 points – 14.8 percent higher than a year ago, she says.

Marshall notes that Ukraine accounts for 10 percent of the global wheat supply, and Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter, accounting for 17 percent of global supply.

Therefore, the ministers of agriculture agreed that a prolonged war in Ukraine will only worsen the global food-security situation by creating disruptions in key markets.

The OECS region has a high food-import dependency ratio, which ranges between 55 and 95 percent, with four Member-States –

including Antigua and Barbuda – recording more than 80 percent.

“It was noted … that local agriculture production is insufficient, both in volume and consistency, to buffer the expected price increase and shortages in the imported food supply,” a release from the OECS says.

The prediction, therefore, is that there will be increases in the price and availability of commodities such as flour and sunflower oil.

It has been agreed that a framework of urgent collaborative action is needed, and all efforts will be used to inform the regional public.