Turkey is the key to solving the global food crisis


The Russian military operation against Ukraine, starting on February 24, led to significant repercussions that extended beyond the region and reached countries far from the heart of the crisis.


Although Turkey hosted peace talks in order to maintain neutrality since the beginning of the crisis, factors such as the deep differences between the two countries and the entry of the western side into the crisis line negatively affected these talks and caused the continuation of the protracted war.

Professor Hilal Al Ware, former Special Rapporteur of the United Nations, member of the World Committee on Food Security, and Dr. Pinar Akpinar, Director of the Labor Research Program at Turkey’s Sabanci University, analyze the role of Turkish mediation and its success in preventing the exacerbation of the global food crisis.

The spread of the Corona virus around the world and the war of Ukraine and Russia has caused a problem in global exports of grain and increased wheat prices two or three times since January 2022.


This situation has led to a state of panic all over the world, especially in countries like Egypt and Lebanon, where wheat consumption is highly dependent on imports besides African countries that lack food security and depend on foreign aid.

Before the Russian-Ukrainian war, other reasons, most notably climate change, drought and economic fluctuations, combined to lead to a hunger crisis that reached more serious dimensions with the impact of the epidemic.

The war in Ukraine caused a significant increase in the prices of wheat and the prices of other products, most notably barley, oats, corn, sunflower and fertilizers.

Bad luck was on the side of countries with low incomes or foreign dependency in the field of food, as they became the countries most affected by this crisis.


It is estimated that Ukraine’s agricultural production will fall seriously next year due to the ongoing war and the inability of farmers to work in the upcoming sowing and harvesting seasons in the context of the conflict.

In addition, Russia is a very important producer of fertilizers and raw materials, but the sanctions imposed on this country are causing the prices of many crops from animal feed to palm oil to rise all over the world.

This situation prompted United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to declare that the world has already entered a food crisis caused by the aforementioned developments.

Guterres also warned world leaders that the world’s food crisis will extend to the finance and energy sectors and will turn into a “storm that haunts the entire world.”


In recent months, the United Nations hosted extraordinary meetings on this issue, in which it addressed the impact of food shortages, the fear of exacerbating famine crises, and the role of the Group of Seven, the Group of Twenty, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in dealing with these crises.

The United Nations also called on world leaders for action, coordination and solidarity, and called on developed countries to assist developing countries in these difficult times, lift export restrictions, abandon policies that will negatively affect global food trade, increase social assistance for vulnerable groups, diversify agriculture and support domestic production.

During the Russian war on Ukraine, the importance of the Black Sea in the global food trade became clear. This war also reminded that Turkey is a major country in the Black Sea basin, and that its straits (Bosphorus – Dardanelles) still maintain its geopolitical importance.


The world realized the importance of the Black Sea and the Turkish straits in the global grain trade for the first time in history when the Ottoman Empire entered World War I in 1914 and closed the Dardanelles Strait, and at that time, Russian grain exports to Europe had to stop.

Then this road was reopened with special agreements with the Ottoman Empire, and this historical situation was repeated with the Russian-Ukrainian war, where Turkey proposed opening a passage for grain in the Black Sea to prevent the risk of famine in the Middle East, North Africa and the Great Sahara.

The first agreement regulating the movement of grain in the Black Sea was signed with Turkish mediation and the participation of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Istanbul on July 22, 2022, followed by the establishment of a coordination center in the same city on July 26.


The aforementioned agreement enabled the defense ministers of Russia and Ukraine to sit at one table away from the atmosphere of war, and also achieved an important diplomatic victory for Turkey in this global crisis.

Although Russia bombed the port of Odessa the day before the signing of the agreement, the reality showed the extent to which the parties needed this corridor and the importance of Turkish efforts to reduce tensions to ensure the cessation of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

In the past, Turkey was able to create a foothold and regional influence in countries that were characterized by difficult circumstances, such as Somalia and Afghanistan.

Ankara, as a responsible and impartial actor, has also developed its diplomatic activities and humanitarian assistance while providing military support to Ukraine by providing Kyiv with armed Bayraktar drones.


In this sense, we see that the capabilities that distinguished Turkish diplomacy in using the elements of soft power in a more balanced way compared to the approach followed by many countries, relying on the elements of hard power and security solutions.

Turkey’s foreign successes, including the signing of the grain corridor agreement, have given Turkey more visibility on the international scene and a more active role in global diplomacy.

With the opening of the grain corridor Ukraine will be able to transport its grain products to importing countries, earn more foreign exchange and export about 20 million tons of products (grain) that have been kept in warehouses since the beginning of the war.

The agreement also allows Russia to open the door to getting rid of the economic blockade imposed by Western countries on it.


Although the implementation of the agreement began with the departure of a ship loaded with corn from the Ukrainian port of Odessa for Lebanon, starting from