France and international partners announce plans to aid food production hit by Ukraine war

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Wheat harvesting in Kyiv region amid Russia's attack on Ukraine

PARIS (Reuters) -France this week convened a meeting with partners including African nations, United Nations bodies and the European Union to urgently address the international food crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine, said the French Elysee presidential palace.

The meeting, held at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, comes as President Emmanuel Macron this week urged neutral countries - many of which are in the global South - to side with Ukraine and the West.

"Tensions on the food market are more exacerbated than ever in the context of the war in Ukraine," the French presidency said in a statement, reiterating its warning of a global food crisis caused by the war.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which started in late February, impacted the market for fertilizers and crops, many of which are produced in Ukraine, and this in turn has led to a sharp rise in food prices.

Ukraine was unable to export most of its crops this year due to the war while energy-intensive fertiliser production was severely hit by soaring power prices across the globe.

"The EU recalled the existing exemptions on all agrifood products and the provision of additional guidelines to clarify the applicability of its sanction regime towards Russia," the Elysee said, adding it also planned to launch an emergency fertilizer purchase mechanism for Africa.

A meeting with chief executives of fertiliser-producing companies will be convened in Paris ahead of the next G20 Summit in mid-November to scale-up production as fast as possible, the Elysee also said.

"Finally, we call on gas producers throughout the world to take responsibility for limiting price increases and ensuring market transparency, which are essential to maintain fertilizer production capacity in all regions of the world," added the Elysee.

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel;Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)