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Ukraine war risks 11 mln-19 mln more hungry people over next year: FAO

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Reduced exports of wheat and other food commodities from Ukraine and Russia risk leaving between 11 million and 19 million more people with chronic hunger over the next year, the United Nations’ food agency said on Friday.

The conflict in Ukraine has fueled a global food crisis, with surging prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a key fertilizer exporter and Ukraine a major supplier of corn and sunflower oil.

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Boubaker BenBelhassen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Markets and Trade Division, said the impact of the conflict “could lead to anywhere between 11 to 19 million more hungry people – that’s chronic hunger for 2022/23.”

This preliminary estimation was based on reduced exports of food commodities from Ukraine and Russia, he told reporters.

The FAO also said in a report on Thursday that spiraling costs for farm inputs like fertilizer could deter growers from expanding production and worsen food security in poorer countries facing record import bills.

“The countries that are being affected most are in the Near East/North African region given their heavy reliance on imports - especially of wheat - from these countries, but also of vegetable oil and sunflower oil,” he said.

Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, such as Bangladesh and Indonesia, were also being “highly impacted,” he added.

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