Vassily Nebenzia: “The ABCD group – Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and the Dutch Louis Dreyfus, which account for 75% to 90% of the global turnover of agro-industrial goods, directly or through intermediaries, own more than 17 out of 32 million hectares of Ukrainian arable land”

12:34 14.02.2024 •

Photo: Permanent mission of the Russian Federation to the UN

Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Vassily Nebenzia made a statement at UNSC open debate "Impact of Climate Change and Food Insecurity on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security". He said in particular:

“Neocolonial practices is the real reason for socio-economic problems that the developing world is exposed to.

According to UN estimates, technically there is no acute food shortage in the world. The problem is unequal distribution, whereby the West accumulates surplus stocks and developing countries run shortages. Another reason is what economic experts call "market conjuncture." In plain terms, it is a situation when the largest manufacturers of agricultural goods find it profitable to maintain high prices. Against this background, the West, who indiscriminately and cunningly blames Russia for the global food crisis, disregards the fact that the main beneficiaries of rising food prices are large Western corporations. I mean the ABCD group – Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and the Dutch Louis Dreyfus, which account for 75% to 90% of the global turnover of agro-industrial goods.

Their subsidiaries in Ukraine directly or through intermediaries own more than 17 out of 32 million hectares of Ukrainian arable land. Taking advantage of the crisis situation in this country, they have increased their purchase of Ukrainian farmland at low prices.

According to UNCTAD, over the years, global food markets have developed a systemic "nexus" of large agricultural companies and Western stock dealers who caused deliberate price spikes. Thus, food crises are largely speculative in nature.

Now back to our question. Why, given the super-profits of Western agricultural industry, does the threat of hunger hit developing countries with growing populations the hardest? Because in the past, Western world deliberately "molded" them to produce maximum profits for the colonizers rather then making them capable of feeding their own populations.

The vast majority of countries, including in Africa, which show an alarming trend towards food insecurity, have sufficient fertile land to build their own food sovereignty. Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Africa has emphasized that too on several occasions. In the previous five years, donors have allocated only 4% of the plan for agricultural support, although we have heard and will continue to hear them pledge larger contributions. The returns of this action continue to be increasingly criticized by recipient states.

Western delegations keep citing statistics of humanitarian aid they provide to developing countries. Is that enough to compensate for the damage caused by centuries of brutal colonial policies of plundering natural resources and exploiting populations? That is not for us to judge, but for those states that suffered from such practices.

However, the amount of aid provided by the United States and its allies to the countries of the Global South does not compare in any way with what the West has allocated in less than two years for a "proxy war" with Russia in Ukraine. By most conservative estimates, that's 200 billion euros. And this is despite the fact that in 2023, UN OCHA requested from donors $55 billion for all humanitarian operations, of which only $22.4 billion has been allocated so far. Can you imagine what could be accomplished in the world if the US and its allies spent money on development assistance as readily as they sponsor wars across the globe?

But now we want to draw attention to something else. Despite all the nice slogans, donor aid from Western countries is not disinterested and is always subject to political preconditions. A clear example is the blackmailing of the Syrian people with humanitarian aid and cruel unilateral coercive measures against that country; politically-motivated termination of funding for UNRWA by Western donors in the context of the horrendous humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

This being said, there is another threat to global food security that we want to talk about – illegal unilateral sanctions imposed by Western countries, primarily the United States, which affect the population of states whose leadership implements independent and autonomous policies, and therefore fails to catch Washington’s fancy. The US authorities are about to adopt a bill that has been cynically dubbed "No Russian Agriculture Act" in order to reduce the so-called "dependence" of third countries on Russian food. If approved, the initiative which has already passed in the lower house of Congress, will be in effect for five years. This only confirms that the United States and its satellites are not going to give up their neo-colonial methods.

Do not indulge in thinking that former colonizers have changed their methods and patterns. They remain the same, but come in a new wrapping. For every dollar spent on aid, they will demand that you pay in sovereignty and political autonomy. Many African states have already experienced this and do not want to accept this approach.

Russia has never viewed Africa, Asia or Latin America as a space to drag profit from. Despite all the obstacles imposed by the United States and its allies, we have helped, are helping, and will continue to help those in need around the world.

Our country has committed to provide financial or physical assistance through bilateral and multilateral channels and has been successful in fulfilling them. In the past five years, we have provided more than $300 million in assistance to 30 states in various regions of the world through WFP alone. We have accumulated considerable experience in technical assistance to developing countries in establishing and developing national programs for providing school meals. WFP has been our main international partner in this area for more than 13 years. To date, we have implemented a series of such projects worth over $120 million in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

Since 2017, we have been implementing a Debt for Development project in Mozambique (budget of $40 million), again jointly with WFP. Pursuant to the decision of the Russian President during the second Russia-Africa Summit in 2023, 200 thousand tonnes of grain have already been delivered to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic and Eritrea free of charge as food assistance.

In addition to assistance for development, in recent years Russia has been actively engaged in strengthening food sovereignty and has significantly increased food exports to global markets. In 2023, this has already led to a decrease in the FAO's Global Food Price Index. This is not just words. We do take part in mitigating the food crisis. Despite unprecedented sanctions pressure, we remain a responsible grain supplier, offering our partners high quality products at attractive prices.”


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