Two weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the prices of key agricultural products from those countries have risen sharply, and experts warn of a possible new world food crisis that could affect millions of people, Radio Free Europe (RFE) reports.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means that the rise in food prices that has plagued global consumers is now turning into a complete crisis, potentially surpassing even the consequences of the pandemic and starving millions of others, Bloomberg points out, adding that both countries are known as world granaries.
Russia and Ukraine produce a huge part of the world’s agricultural stocks, and they are also cheap producers, so their exports are a favorite for importers from the Middle East and North Africa, Bloomberg points out, adding that now shipments from both countries have practically dried up.
Commodity prices are rising – the price of wheat has risen by about 50 percent in two weeks, and corn has reached its highest level in a decade. Increasing costs could eventually affect developing countries, where food accounts for a larger share of the consumer basket.
The crisis extends beyond the critical impact of grain exports, Bloomberg emphasizes, adding that Russia is also a key supplier of fertilizers.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing the worst jump in global food prices since the Great Recession of 2008, which could deepen global supply and price problems, inflame the plague of world hunger and provoke greater political turmoil outside the conflict zone, writes the Washington Post.
Faced with the siege of cities and the war, Kiev stopped the export of meat, rye, oats, buckwheat, sugar, millet and salt, and imposed certain restrictions on wheat and corn. Russia could temporarily ban grain exports to a group of former Soviet countries, as well as some sugar exports, which would further increase the cost of food production globally.
In contrast, the paper points out, other countries are turning to trade protectionism to protect their food supplies. Indonesia has set new restrictions on palm oil exports, Hungary has banned all grain exports, while Serbia has banned wheat, corn, flour and edible oil exports.
Egypt has introduced control over the export of cereals because the price of bread has already begun to rise, while Syria and Lebanon have begun to rationalize the consumption of wheat, sugar and edible oil.
A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that food and feed prices could rise by seven to 22 percent above the already increased prices due to the war. A preliminary estimate by the FAO is that due to the war, up to 30 percent of wheat, corn and sunflower seeds will either not be planted or harvested in Ukraine during the upcoming season.
Experts warn that higher food prices could cause global unrest. During the 2007-8 crisis, riots erupted from Haiti to Bangladesh while the social uprisings of the Arab Spring, the paper points out, also took place amid public outrage over high food prices. Rising food prices will also complicate global efforts to combat hunger in fragile or conflicting countries, from Afghanistan to Haiti.
What makes the food crisis even worse is that the effects of the climate collapse and the corona virus pandemic have already created global disruptions in key food markets, the Guardian points out.
Prices for durum wheat, which is used to make pasta, rose 90 percent late last year after a drought and record heat waves in Canada, one of the world’s largest grain producers. At the same time, the paper adds, key agricultural areas in the United States experienced forest fires and extreme weather last year, while there was a drought in Latin America.
In some of the world’s most endangered regions, people have already faced acute food shortages due to weather conditions that have been found to be deteriorating as a result of the climate crisis.
One in ten people in the world, the Guardian points out, already lacks enough food to eat, and the corona virus has exacerbated the problem because the pandemic has disrupted food transport markets and networks in developing countries, and exacerbated poverty.