The location was chosen with care. The host, Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir, chose Hohenheim Castle for the meeting of the G7 agriculture ministers on Friday and Saturday. The idyllic location in the south of Stuttgart is not just a home game for the Greens politician, who won the direct mandate for the Bundestag in Stuttgart in the last election. The castle also houses the part of the university that deals with agricultural research.
In view of the war in Ukraine, rising grain prices and the threat of famine in many countries in the Global South, Özdemir, who had also invited his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solskyj to the meeting, wanted to meet with the heads of departments from Canada, France, Italy, Great Britain, Japan and the USA are looking for solutions on how to secure the global food supply. “Putin’s war is increasing hunger in the world,” criticized the German minister.
This is now additionally endangered by the fact that the second largest wheat producer in the world, India, has imposed an export ban. The country is threatened with crop losses due to the extreme temperatures. Nevertheless, Özdemir sees the move critically. India, as a member of the G20 group of the most important industrialized and emerging countries, must live up to its responsibility, Özdemir appealed in Stuttgart on Saturday.
The German minister also believes that Indonesia’s export restrictions on palm oil are wrong – as do his G7 colleagues. In the communiqué, the seven speak out against export bans and in favor of open markets. It is important to stabilize the markets. To do this, however, you need a better overview of the raw material reserves. The G7 ministers have therefore decided to put more money into AMIS, the global agricultural market information system once founded by the G20. Germany wants to double its contribution to 80,000 dollars. Özdemir called on China, the world’s largest wheat producer, to cooperate with the G7.
In the short term, however, the main concern is to get the 20 million tons of grain that are currently still stored in silos in Ukraine out of the country. Because the ports of Ukraine are blocked by Russia, an export by road or rail is being considered. Both solutions, says Özdemir, are worse than the sea route. With the port blockade, Putin wanted to “destroy Ukraine economically,” criticized the German minister. The problem is getting worse because the new harvest is coming up soon.
Ukraine is one of the breadbaskets of Europe. Agriculture Minister Solskyj assumes that his country can harvest 30 to 40 million tons of grain from the forthcoming harvest.
To help farmers in Ukraine, the G7 want to provide farmers with fuel, fertilizer and seeds.
Özdemir again warned against playing off the food crisis against the climate crisis. At the G7 level, too, there has been a commitment to sustainable agriculture, he reports: fewer pesticides, less artificial fertilizers, more biodiversity, fewer crop losses in the fields. In Germany, however, not everyone shares these goals. Because of the protests by “Land creates connection” and the “Free Farmers” in front of Hohenheim Castle, the ministers had to move. Instead of in the castle, they met in a Stuttgart hotel.