We are able to help Ukraine export grain, by facilitating transport routes, although of course we will not fully replace Black Sea ports,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Henryk Kowalczyk told PAP before the start of the second day of the FAO Regional Conference in Łódź.
The issue of food security after the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine dominates the 33rd session of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Conference for Europe 2022, which has been held in Łódź since Tuesday.
Before the start of the second day of the Łódź session, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development told PAP that at the moment, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is one of the leading producers of, among others, cereals, it is necessary to ensure food security to the world.
– We are able to help Ukraine export grain. It is about unblocking communication routes, although of course we will not fully replace Black Sea ports,” Kowalczyk stressed during an interview with PAP on Wednesday morning.
The deputy prime minister stipulated that there are some technical limitations. “The infrastructure both on the Ukrainian and Polish side, the number of wagons and cars for transport is not sufficient,” he said. – the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out.
– However, we will certainly work 24 hours a day at border checks, at transport, so as to help Ukraine export grain,” he assured.
Already during Wednesday’s greeting of the participants of the Łódź session of the FAO, Minister Kowalczyk noted that the conference, taking place in another week of the Russian attack on Ukraine, underlines even more the importance of the problem of global food security.
– I would like this meeting to take place in conditions more conducive to discussion, but I hope that the deliberations will contribute to solving the problems we have to face – said the Deputy Prime Minister.
Several dozen FAO delegates from Europe and Central Asia arrived in Łódź already on Tuesday. The inauguration of the conference was attended, among others, by FAO Director General Qu Dongyu, representatives of the Polish government: Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Henryk Kowalczyk and Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau.
The meeting in Łódź was also attended by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, who in his speech highlighted the challenges facing food producers in Central and Eastern Europe.
– Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine is causing, in addition to a horrific number of victims, huge losses in food production, agriculture and agricultural infrastructure. We view this with the greatest concern. Ukraine, which used to be an important exporter of food to many regions of the world, is now struggling to export food. The great challenge is to help with this,” said Wojciechowski. It is about ensuring food security for a large part of the world – he stressed.
– On Wednesday the European Commission will issue a communication on this issue and will present a plan of its actions, how the Commission itself and the member states can help to ensure exports of Ukrainian cereals to such regions of the world as the Middle East and Africa, the EU commissioner for agriculture informed in Łódź. – We also need to think about our long-term strategy on how to strengthen food security in the face of these difficult challenges,” he added.
The opening speeches of the FAO conference session underlined the importance of the debate on the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine for world agriculture and food economy. FAO Director General Qu Dongyu, who opened the conference, underlined that the importance of Poland in food production is growing.
– Poland has become one of the most important countries for agriculture – he noted. It is also one of the most competitive countries for agriculture and food production in Europe – FAO boss pointed out.
FAO was established in 1945; its headquarters are located in Rome. The organisation deals with i.a. fighting poverty and hunger, and increasing prosperity through food redistribution and rural development.