Wheat harvest in Iraq
Photo: Hadi Mizban / dpa
Regardless of the Ukraine war and expensive fertilizers, the United Nations estimates that the world grain harvest this year will be only slightly lower than in 2021. So far, 2.785 billion tons are expected, which would be around 23 million tons less than in the previous marketing year, said Josef Schmidhuber, economist at the United Nations Agricultural Organization FAO in Rome.
"That's a very small difference, and really only a rough estimate at the moment."
The world grain harvest includes wheat, corn and rice.
The Ukraine war has both reduced the supply of wheat on the world market and contributed to a shortage of fertilizer, which is important for crop yields on many soils.
"Worldwide, fertilizer consumption fell in the past marketing year, by about 1.6 percent," said the deputy head of the UN organization's markets and trade department.
In a long-term comparison, the effects of the international financial crisis were more serious: "But that's still little compared to the 2008/2009 financial year, when we had a contraction of more than eight percent."
"The big question is, of course, what will happen in the new harvest year?" Schmidhuber continues.
In his analysis, he assumes that less nitrogen fertilizer will be used, less phosphorus fertilizer as well, but above all significantly less potash fertilizer.
"In terms of trend, I would assume that the global harvest volume will fall again a bit in the coming year, which, with constantly increased demand, would lead to the stocks falling further." However, the economist emphasized that these expectations are subject to change.
Progress in Russian blockade negotiations
Negotiations to break the Russian grain blockade in Ukraine are apparently making progress.
According to the German Press Agency, UN Security Council circles have confirmed the possibility of a meeting between the conflicting parties together with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in Turkey – possibly as early as next week.
The talks are at a point where the UN chief would negotiate directly with Russians and Ukrainians to reach an agreement.
However, diplomats in New York warned against too much optimism: So far there has been no agreement on the export of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea.
The mistrust between Moscow and Kyiv is still very high and there are still a number of hurdles in the negotiations.
Another open question is whether Russia is sincere about its involvement in the talks, a Western diplomat said.
The United Nations only officially announced that the negotiations were going on.
The international community has been demanding that Russia allow the export of Ukrainian grain for weeks.
Ukraine complains that its ports in the Black Sea are blocked by the Russian Navy.
Both countries are among the largest wheat exporters and play an important role in global food security.
The United Nations recently warned of the worst famine in decades.