There is a risk of famine in many countries. On the one hand, this is due to droughts, but the war in Ukraine is also partly to blame, which means that the granary of Europe is suffering from a massive reduction in harvests.
In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin (69) is exacerbating the hunger crisis with his own hand: his troops are blocking the export of 20 million tons of grain in Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (41) describes the blockade as a “weapon of war” and speaks of a “grain war”.
Switzerland, however, does not feel much of this grain war. Reason: At 80 percent, it has a high degree of self-sufficiency in grain. Markus Spörndli, media spokesman for the Department of Economics, Education and Research (EAER), told Blick: “Switzerland is only slightly dependent on imports from Russia and Ukraine for its food supply. Only two percent of the grain is imported from the two countries.” Spörndli adds: “Switzerland’s supply of grain is secured.”
Hoping for a good harvest
However, things could get tight if the domestic grain harvest this year were poor like 2021 due to the weather. “Then more extensive supplementary imports would be required,” says Spörndli. The high prices on international markets due to the war and the sanctions would be cushioned in Switzerland by lower border protection.
However, the final price is likely to increase because the situation on the fertilizer market is tense and Russia is a major exporter of mineral fertilizers. “In view of the uncertain development, the release of the compulsory stocks for nitrogen fertilizers remains in force,” says Spörndli.
Confederation breaks off criticized cooperation
In mid-January, just a few weeks before the start of the war, the EAER announced that Switzerland and Russia wanted to intensify exchanges in the agricultural sector. A memorandum of understanding addressed three issues: bilateral trade, phytosanitary cooperation and veterinary cooperation.
In an interview with Blick, the Ukrainian ambassador Artem Rybtschenko (38) was angry at the time. He said diplomatically: “For me as ambassador, it would be more pleasant if Switzerland worked with Ukraine in the agricultural sector.”
However, this announced exchange with Russia never took place. The EAER tells Blick on request: “Due to the military aggression in Ukraine, expanding cooperation with Russia in the field of agriculture is currently not an issue. The signing of the joint declaration of intent has been postponed indefinitely.”