The Conflict Between Russia And Ukraine Could Trigger A Global Food Shortage

This is due to the fact that the countries are major exporters of agricultural products.

After a sharp global food shortage due to the Covid-19 pandemic, disruptions in agricultural production in Russia and Ukraine due to the conflict could seriously exacerbate global food shortages. This was stated by Qiu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In a statement Friday, the head of the organization said Russia and Ukraine play a significant role in global food production and supply.

"Russia is the world's largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is in fifth place. Together they provide 19 percent of the world's barley, 14 percent of wheat and 4 percent of corn, accounting for more than one-third of global grain exports," he explained.

Qiu added that the two countries are also leading suppliers of rapeseed, accounting for 52% of the world sunflower oil export market. Global fertilizer supplies are also highly concentrated, with Russia being the leading producer.

He explained that supply chain and logistics failures in grain and oilseed production in Ukraine and Russia, as well as restrictions on Russian exports, would have serious implications for food security.

"This is especially true for the 50 or so countries that depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30 percent or more of their wheat supplies," Qiu said. "Many of them are least developed or low-income, food-deficit countries in North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Many countries in Europe and Central Asia get more than 50 percent of their fertilizer supplies from Russia, and their shortages could last until next year." Food prices, which have already been rising since the second half of 2020, hit an all-time high in February 2022 due to high demand, production and transportation costs, and port disruptions.

UN data shows that global wheat and barley prices rose 31% during 2021. Rapeseed oil and sunflower oil prices rose more than 60%. High demand and volatile natural gas prices also drove up fertilizer costs. For example, the price of urea, a key nitrogen fertilizer, has more than tripled in the past 12 months.

"The intensity and duration of the conflict remains uncertain. The likely disruptions in the agricultural activities of these two major exporters of key commodities could seriously exacerbate food insecurity around the world when international food and input prices are already high and volatile," Qiu said.

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