“Both Ukraine and Russia are leading exporters of agricultural products to many Middle Eastern and North African countries, and disruptions related to the war are already exacerbating already-rising food prices and deepening poverty,” the statement said.
“Global food chains demand global solidarity in times of crisis,” said Lama Fakih, the executive Middle East and North Africa director at HRW.
“Without concerted action to address the supply and affordability of food, the conflict in Ukraine risks deepening the world’s food crisis, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.”
The Ukrainian government banned exports on key agricultural goods, including wheat, corn, grains, salt and meat, according to a cabinet resolution that passed on March 9.
HRW said even if the supply chain disruptions are resolved soon, the problems would likely continue “because farmers are fleeing the fighting and the conflict is destroying infrastructure and equipment.” The fighting could also diminish the coming harvest.
Some context: Combined, Russia and Ukraine are responsible for almost 30% of global wheat exports, according to Gro Intelligence, an agricultural data analytics firm.
Ukraine had been on track for a record year of wheat exports prior to the invasion, while Russia’s wheat exports were slowing, according to the US Department of Agriculture.