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IMF chief urges fast, well-coordinated actions to tackle food crisis

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva is pictured during a virtual press conference in Washington D.C., the United States, April 20, 2022.(Cory Hancock/IMF/Handout via Xinhua)

The IMF chief noted that "if we have learned one lesson from the 2007-08 food crisis, it is that the international community needs to take fast and well-coordinated actions to tackle a food crisis by maintaining open trade, support vulnerable households, ensure sufficient agricultural supply, and address financing pressures."

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief said on Wednesday that the Russia-Ukraine war has led to food shortages and sharply higher prices, urging the international community to take fast, well-coordinated actions to tackle food crisis.

The war has created "a crisis on top of a crisis" around the globe with countries facing food shortages and sharply higher prices for food, energy and fertilizers, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement.

"These pressures occur at a time when countries' public finances are already stretched from the pandemic and debt burdens are high," Georgieva said.

"With inflation reaching the highest levels seen in decades, vulnerable households in low- and middle-income countries are most at risk of acute food insecurity," she continued, adding that hunger often triggers social unrest and violence.

Georgieva noted that "if we have learned one lesson from the 2007-08 food crisis, it is that the international community needs to take fast and well-coordinated actions to tackle a food crisis by maintaining open trade, support vulnerable households, ensure sufficient agricultural supply, and address financing pressures."

The IMF chief made the statement as the IMF and several other international financial institutions released a joint action plan to address food security.

The owner of a warehouse of wheat and grains displays Ukrainian wheat in Hasbaya, southern Lebanon, on Feb. 28, 2022. (Photo by Taher Abu Hamdan/Xinhua)

Following a meeting of international financial institutions and global leaders convened by the U.S. Treasury Department on April 19 "Tackling Food Insecurity: the challenges and call to action," the IMF, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have worked together to formulate a joint action plan to address food security.

According to the newly released plan, the international financial institutions will pursue actions to step up, surge, and scale their work across six priority goals: support vulnerable people; promote open trade; mitigate fertilizer shortages; support food production; invest in climate-resilient agriculture for the future; and coordinate for maximum impact.

"Working closely with the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions, the IMF will provide policy advice, capacity development assistance, and financial support to help further catalyze and complement financing from other institutions," Georgieva said.

The IMF chief noted that the IMF will also bring to bear its new Resilience and Sustainability Trust, which will provide affordable longer-term financing for countries facing structural challenges, and intensify efforts with the World Bank and others to support debt restructurings where needed. ■