Will the World Starve to Death?

Another humanitarian crisis coming this fall has already begun. Russia and Ukraine are two of those important countries where the world's largest agricultural and food producers are located. Both countries export more than 25% of the world's wheat. Also, they export 1/3 of the world's barley, sunflower oil, and corn.

Image by Kasun Chamara from Pixabay 

The war has disrupted exports, and as a result, the prices have surged to the highest limit. Because of the war, a significant amount of the world's wheat, corn, and barley have been stranded in Russia and Ukraine, while a large proportion of the world's fertilizers have been stranded in Russia and Belarus. As a result, global food and fertilizer costs have skyrocketed.

There are some countries that are badly suffering from hunger drought and rely entirely on Russia and Ukraine’s wheat. Most of the imports come through the Black Sea and Russia-Ukraine, which are key for food security in those countries. The affected countries are scrambling to get supplies from suppliers around the world.

South Africa and the Middle East are Already Battling with Food Shortages

Egypt is the world’s biggest importer of wheat, which gets 85% of it from Russia and Ukraine. The two nations also supply war-ravaged Yemen with about 40%. Also, Ukraine’s wheat makes up 50% of Lebanon’s wheat needs. Tunisia is heavily dependent on wheat, with 50% of its imports coming from Ukraine. For the past few years, Tunisia has suffered from unemployment, inflation, and debt. 

As a result, the country is extremely susceptible to economic catastrophes. Many African countries, as well as a number of Arab countries, are concerned about the impact of rising wheat prices.

War Causes Threats among Leaders

At a press conference from Brussels, Biden makes the world pay attention to the Russia-Ukraine war, which could be catastrophic for global food.

He said:

"Both Russia and Ukraine have banned the breadbasket of Europe in terms of wheat. We talked about urging all the European countries to end trade restrictions on limitations on sending food abroad. We are in a process of working it out with European friends, what would it take to help alleviate the food shortage."

The Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade said this showed his concern regarding the hunger crisis.

He stated,

"If the situation escalates, and the wheat market is halted, we have enough for about months' worth of wheat stored in the mills but after that, we have no reserves."

Syria's long-running conflict has dislocated 12 million people, who are in need of humanitarian aid. The Ukraine conflict has resulted in record-high prices, as well as the loss of livelihoods for many households. Syria produced a report prior to the Ukraine crisis demonstrating how households had to restrict their food consumption: one in every five children in Northern Syria suffers from anemia.

Economists, humanitarian organizations, and government officials are not only warning about the rise in global famine but also that oil, gas, and even metals like aluminum, nickel, and palladium are all rapidly increasing in price, with experts predicting that the trend will continue.

What Should be Done to Buffer Food Crises?

We don't know whether this is a temporary crisis or a long-term disruption in the global geopolitical, energy, and food courses. But there is a serious emergency in Ukraine, with millions of people under attack and displaced.

Countries should enhance global trade norms to prevent countries from restricting exports unless they are facing a food crisis of their own. Longer-term investments in agriculture and food systems are also needed to make sure that everyone can get enough food in a way that is both safe and sustainable.

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