Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati speaks during a side event on the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Nusa Dua, on Indonesia resort island of Bali on July 14, 2022. (MADE NAGI / POOL / AFP)
NUSA DUA, Indonesia – Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati on Friday called for a joint forum involving G20 finance and agriculture ministries to come up with concrete action to tackle growing food insecurity and a looming fertilizer supply crisis.
Food insecurity is one of the top issues on the agenda at a G20 meeting of finance leaders in Bali, where host Indonesia has been trying to find common ground in a group rattled by Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine and rising economic pressures from soaring inflation.
Sri Mulyani said the world was facing alarming global hunger due to war, export restrictions and the lingering effect of the pandemic. The risk of a fertilizer supply crisis could exacerbate the food crisis even into 2023 and beyond, she said.
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US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on G20 members to boost their spending to address existing food security challenges
Similar joint meetings were set up for finance and health ministries last year to address issues such as uneven COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
"The G20 has successfully been doing this for finance and health...we do hope the same thing can be also established by strengthening our ability to mobilize not only financing, but most importantly policy coordination across countries and supported by international organizations," said Sri Mulyani.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the same meeting called on G20 members to boost their spending to address existing food security challenges.
Yellen said poor households in the poorest countries were the most directly affected, setting back development and undermining efforts to eradicate poverty.
The Russian military operation in Ukraine has sent prices soaring for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer. The Russian operation and sea blockade has stalled exports, leaving dozens of ships stranded and some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck in silos at Odesa.
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During the discussion, World Trade Organization director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said there was a risk food supply may be diverted away from poorer countries to richer ones, "repeating the experiences with COVID-19 vaccines".
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