The global food system, already weakened by pandemic-related shocks and the energy crisis, is expected to be severely impacted by the conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Moscow, The Economist reports.
“Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened,” the report states.
According to the magazine, the two nations supply 12% of “traded calories.”
Earlier this week, wheat prices – up 53% since the start of 2022 – reportedly soared by further 6% shortly after India prohibited all exports of the vital food commodity with immediate effect because of an alarming heatwave.
In the 2021-2022 season, which began in July last year, Russian suppliers accounted for 16% of global wheat exports, and Ukrainian producers accounted for 10%. However, the conflict forced both nations to ban exports of the grain.
In February, Russia restricted the export of wheat, rye, barley and corn outside the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) until June 30. Meanwhile, Ukraine has shut its only remaining port in Odessa.
The situation was also exacerbated after Kazakhstan, another major grain supplier, largely banned exports to protect its domestic food supplies.
The number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat has reportedly surged to 1.6 billion, while nearly 250 million are on the brink of famine. Hundreds of millions more could fall into poverty.
On May 18, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned that the coming months threaten “the specter of a global food shortage” that could last for years.