White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed on Thursday the government's plans to aid in the ongoing global food crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that started last February.
During a regular briefing in The White House this week, Press Secretary Jen Psaki affirmed the importance of the global food crisis issue and revealed that it is one of the reasons Biden went to Chicago recently. Psaki said Biden raised the need to increase the food supply in the United States to help address the global crisis.
"While we don't expect shortages here, we want to be providers of American grains to the rest of the world as we're seeing shortages in part because of the war in Ukraine. We've also provided a large amount of assistance to global food programs, global aid programs in anticipation of what we see as a potential shortage of food. And we'll continue to work on it," Psaki said.
US Increases Wheat & Grains Supply
Psaki added that the White House has been working on the issue for months now. She shared that Biden took a particular trip on Wednesday to elevate and discuss the steps the American government is undertaking to increase the supply of grains and wheat in the United States in addressing this particular issue.
"And we are far and away the world's largest provider of assistance in aid to global food programs in order to address what we know could be a shortage around the world," Psaki concluded.
The press secretary's statements came in response to a question raised by one reporter on getting more details regarding Biden's meeting last week with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, who relayed the details of his discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his recent Kyiv visit. The Ukrainian president particularly raised in the said meeting with Meeks their concern on how their grains and the lack of it are impacting the rest of the world, particularly Africa.
Reuters reported that there are 25 million tons of grain held in the port of Odesa, Ukraine as a result of the country securing its borders from the Russian military. The said volume of grain is enough to feed millions in the world, especially African and Middle Eastern countries as per German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday. The media outlet said members of the G7, which includes the United States, are meeting on Friday on how to arrive at an organized, efficient, and quick answer to the global food crisis.
As previously reported, the African continent is heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian imports for wheat and other grains. The African countries of Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, and Sudan get 40% of wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine while Nigeria get 25%. The Ukraine-Russia conflict has further spiked the prices of commodities in the continent that is already beset with draught and political-military instability.
US To Chair Global Food Security Meeting
United States representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture Cindy McCain urged the international community on Tuesday to urgently respond to the global food crisis, which she said is worst than that experienced after the Second World War.
McCain disclosed during the broadcast briefing in Rome that a "global food security call to action" meeting will be held on May 18 in New York's UN Headquarters and chaired by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The said meeting intends to review important humanitarian needs alongside discussing global food security issues. Blinken is expected to discuss the links between food security and conflict during the said upcoming meeting.
In addition, McCain highlighted that the US is pouring its resources into immediate humanitarian assistance including an $11 billion package for long-term food security improvement. She said this is on top of devising broader strategies to bolster food security through partnerships with grain-producing countries.
World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasly similarly raised the same concerns on Wednesday before the United States Congress. Beasley pointed out the need to move fast to prevent the catastrophic consequences of the food crisis. Beasley underscored that the World Food Program is $10 billion short of funding in addressing current needs. He stressed that an additional 50 million people are expected to grow hungry on top of the current 276 million globally due to the food crisis.