Ensuring Sufficient Food Production — Global Issues

Potential shortages of certain commodities can generate internal instability in many countries, increasing internal and external migration flows. Credit: FAO
  • Opinion by Mario Lubetkin (Rome)
  • Inter Press Service

As we approach four months since the start of the war, data continues to show an upward trend in food prices, particularly in poorer countries, as concern grows about the possible effects of these increases. .

Potential shortages of certain commodities can generate internal instability in many countries, increasing internal and external migration flows.

Russia and Ukraine together account for 30% of world wheat and maize exports and 63% of sunflower seeds. According to experts, there is already a shortage of three million tons of these grains this year, despite the increase in exports from other countries, such as India.

Rising energy and fertilizer prices could lead to increased hunger among tens of millions of people, significantly increasing the figure of 811 million people already suffering from hunger in 2020.

This figure has continued to rise due to the effects of COVID-19, by more than 100 million in 2021, putting the next global harvest at risk.

According to a recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), some 193 million people in 53 countries were already in a situation of acute food insecurity and had need very urgent aid in 2021, almost 40 million more than in 2020.

Famine warnings remain high in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

It will be the most fragile countries in Africa and Asia that will pay the high price, even though many European countries are 100% dependent on Russian fertilizers, the world’s leading exporter.

This is the case of Estonia, Finland, Lithuania and Serbia, while countries like Slovenia, North Macedonia, Norway and Poland, among others, are also heavily dependent on these fertilizer.

In addition, more than 50 countries in other parts of the world depend at least 30% on Russian fertilizers.

Egypt and Turkey are among the countries that could be most affected by their dependence on imported wheat and maize from warring European countries, as well as several African countries such as Congo, Eritrea, Madagascar, Namibia, Somalia and Tanzania.

Regarding the increase in food prices, there are countries like Lebanon where the increase has already exceeded 300%. However, even more developed countries are feeling the impact of the conflict, as in the case of Germany, where prices increased by 12%, and the United Kingdom, where they increased by more than 6%.

By the end of March, just over a month after the start of the war, food products had already risen by 12.6%, the largest increase since 1990 according to FAO data.

Reduced production can lead to an immediate decline in food quality, leading to an increase in the critical situation of obesity which already exceeds 600 million people, while more than 2 billion are overweight, which can also increase the risks for health, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.

“We must keep the global trading system open and ensure that agri-food exports are not restricted or taxed,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.

According to Qu, there is a need to increase investment in countries affected by current food prices, reduce food waste, and improve and more efficiently use natural resources such as water and fertilizers.

It is also necessary to promote social and technological innovations that will significantly reduce disruption of the agricultural market, as well as to improve social protection and personalized support for the farmers most affected by this crisis.

FAO Chief Economist, Máximo Torero, recalled the proposal of this specialized organization based in Rome to create a global instrument, called the Food Import Financing Facility, worth 9,000 million dollars to cover 100 % of food costs of the most affected countries in 2022.

© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Leave a Comment