Food insecurity and trade disruption are two of the many consequences of the military conflict in Ukraine. The International Food Policy Research Institute proposes specific ways to tackle the food crisis.
1. Food security
Shortly after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, analysts have voiced serious concerns about an impending food crisis. According to the World Bank, some countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia usually get 75% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. As the military invasion keeps going, trade disruptions will escalate and lower-income countries could see “increased hunger and food insecurity”. In particular, countries with the biggest trade links to Russia and Ukraine are likely to face potential economic impacts.
The difficulty here is Ukraine grows enough food to feed 400 million people on planet Earth. So when the farmers on the battlefields aren’t planting or aren’t harvesting, what impact do you think that’s going to have?David Beasley, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme
Ukraine’s spring sowing of barley, maize and other crops will be less than half of the 2021 level, its agriculture ministry reported. Russia’s food exports, meanwhile, have reduced drastically because foreign traders are unwilling to do business there.
2. Food, energy, fertilizers
Ukraine’s share of global exports for seed oil accounts for more than 40% of all exports — the world’s biggest. More than 13% of global corn exports and over 5% of wheat exports also come from Ukraine. As for Russia, it accounts for 18% of the world’s wheat exports and 14% of fertilizers. It’s also a “major force” in the market for energy and metals, according to the World Bank. The country controls a quarter of the world’s natural gas exports, 18% of coal exports, 14% of platinum shipments and 11% of crude oil exports.
3. Tackling the food crisis
Researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute (FPRI) have proposed specific ways to deal with the food crisis that is bound to happen. These include other major grain producing countries boosting their exports — for example by releasing stocks. FPRI research also suggest that other major oil producers should increase supplies to help lower fuel, fertilizer and shipping costs. Meanwhile, governments need to protect their people by offering food or financial aid.
According to Aaron Smith, Professor of agricultural economics at the University of California, food loss will have “a big effect on world agricultural markets, but not that big”. Smith, quoted by the Time UK, said that other big producers, such as the EU, the US, Canada, Australia and India, should be able to cover some of the shortfall. However, the Professor noted that it takes time for recipient countries to rearrange their supply chains and place orders with new sources.