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Israeli ports to prioritize unloading ships of grain, fodder amid shortage fears

Transportation minister issues order that will remain in place for a month; says country must protect food security, strengthen domestic agriculture after Russia’s Ukraine invasion

A ship at the Fisherman's Wharf in the Kishon Port, in Haifa on June 26, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)
A ship at the Fisherman's Wharf in the Kishon Port, in Haifa on June 26, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Cargo ships carrying grain and fodder will be given priority in unloading at Israel’s ports for the coming month amid fears of shortages in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Transportation Ministry said Thursday.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli instructed the Shipping and Ports Authority to prioritize the unloading of ships carrying grain and fodder for use in Israel’s agriculture and food sectors until April 24.

At major ports, ships carrying livestock will be unloaded first and then those with grain or fodder, before docks take in general cargo.

“We face challenges to our food security at the moment due to the worrying developments in Ukraine,” Michaeli said. “The State of Israel must protect its food security by strengthening our domestic agriculture.”

“Taking steps to get the grain and fodder that Israeli agriculture relies on into the country quickly will ensure that we maintain Israeli food security despite the changes around the world,” she said in the statement.

Ukraine is a key exporter of wheat to Israel. The grain also also comes to a lesser extent from Russia.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli in Tel Aviv, on February 22, 2022. (Avshalom sassoni/Flash90)

Human Rights Watch warned earlier this week that the war in Ukraine “risks deepening the world’s food crisis, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Fighting and sanctions have disrupted grain shipments from Russia and Ukraine, which between them account for nearly 30 percent of global wheat exports, threatening hunger and social upheaval in many countries.

Ships are not leaving Ukraine and there are concerns about the country’s upcoming sowing season amid the war.

The invasion has led to higher food prices globally and already rising production costs. Prices of cereals and cooking oils have risen in many countries.

The United States, India and Europe could cover wheat shortages. But it could be more complicated to replace sunflower oil and corn, of which Ukraine is the world’s number one and number four exporter, respectively.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned that the conflict could reverberate far beyond Ukraine, causing a “hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system.”

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says the number of undernourished people could increase by eight to 13 million people over the course of this year and next.

The European Union’s executive arm on Wednesday proposed an aid package of 500 million euros ($549 million) to help food producers in the 27-nation bloc weather the economic impact of the war in Ukraine.

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