Noting that one of the biggest concerns which arose from the Ukraine conflict was the disruption of the food supply chains, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today hoped the war in Europe would come to an early end and that there were no more conflicts.
”Ukraine was by far the leading exporter of wheat. What happens when food exporting nations for some reason, in this case, conflict, what happens if that gets disrupted? And we all saw immediately how the conflict led to escalating food prices; led to speculation; led to shortages,” he said at a pre-launch event of International Year of Millets 2023.
He was of the view that a situation like the one being witnessed currently could arise if there were concentrated centres of food production and food export, and the world was utterly and totally dependent on that for the stability of global markets.
Jaishankar said the world also saw what happened during Covid-19. ”… if you had very concentrated centres of production, and something happened, because they got disrupted, then the entire global economy was at risk because there were problems in one particular geography,” he said.
The minister said this was not just in the case of China and manufacturing. ”I can share my own experience that when we had a lockdown in 2020, probably some of the countries who were most concerned were our immediate neighbours, and countries of the Gulf because countries of the Gulf were importing food from us on a daily basis.”
He said India had in the middle of the lockdown assured them and delivered on that assurance that it would keep the food supply chain going. ”So there were actually periods where the only planes which were actually taking off from some of our airports were actually planes to the Gulf, carrying food supplies,” he added.
He said that Covid was a period which reminded the world of what a pandemic could do to food security.