Conflict points to world heading for a food crisis

Thursday 7th April 2022 4:00 pm
Ryan Hall Column
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The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has had devastating consequences in Ukraine.

While people across Ukraine are obviously the most affected by the conflict.

The rest of the world is also experiencing the consequences of war.

The war in Ukraine has already worsened the crisis in the worldwide energy markets, with the world still recovering from pandemic related disruption to energy supply.

However, the world is heading towards another crisis involving food.

With the cost of food already on the rise, the costs are expected to rise further, or face severe shortages due to the geopolitical situation in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine produce around a quarter of all the world’s wheat.  Billions of people worldwide rely on wheat from the two countries for basic things such as pasta, bread and packaged foods.

A large amount of the world’s barley, sunflower oil and corn is also produced in Russia and Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine is by no means the cause of the problem. Between April 2020 and December 2021 the price of wheat had already risen by 80%. Shortages of these foods, caused by climate change and the war in Ukraine, coupled with already rising costs means we are travelling headfirst into a new world crisis.

But the crisis goes deeper.  Ukraine and Russia are also major producers of fertiliser, prices for which had already leapt under high energy prices and the conflict in Ukraine is sending energy prices higher still, with further impacts on agricultural production costs.

This means that the entire world will pay the price and it will be those worldwide already in poverty or on low incomes who suffer the greatest consequences.

The United Nations food chief has already warned that parts of the Middle East and Africa risk famine, due to food supply issues and increasing costs caused by conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The UN has also warned of the unintended consequences of imposing sanctions on Russia, which has halted food exports to some countries who really need it.

The other reasons for the world food crisis can be attributed to climate change. Wheat crops from China are facing its worst crop in decades due to severe flooding. Not enough is being done to avert worsening climate changes which have disastrous consequences for food production.

The world needs to do all it can to take action immediately to avert further climate catastrophe, the technology exists, it just needs to happen.

The UK has already experienced what happens when supermarket shelves run empty.. Further food price increases will make the current cost of living crisis worse for millions in the UK. s we have seen with energy companies, excessive profits are being put before the needs of the many.  The same is happening when it comes to food.

A few people will benefit greatly from increasing food costs. Let’s feed everyone, rather than allow the billionaires to fill their bank accounts.

Food production and distribution needs to be managed globally for the benefit of all.

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