Writing on the front page of today’s New York Times, Jack Nicas reported that “The war in Ukraine has shocked global energy markets. Now the planet faces a deeper crisis: a shortage of food.
“A crucial part of the wheat of the world, But and barley is trapped in Russia and Ukraine because of the war, while an even larger part of the world’s fertilizer is stuck in Russia and Belarus. The result is that world food and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing. Since last month’s invasion, wheat prices have gone up 21 percent, barley by 33 percent and some 40 percent fertilizer.
“The upheaval is compounded by major challenges that were already raising prices and reducing supplies, including the pandemic, transportation constraints, high energy costs and recent droughts, floods and fires.
Nicas said that,
Today, economists, aid organizations and government officials are warning of the repercussions: an increase in world hunger.
Today’s article notes that “‘Ukraine has only made disaster upon disaster,’ said David M. Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, the United Nations agency that feeds 125 million people a day. ‘There is no precedent even close to this since World War II.’
“Ukrainian farms are about to miss critical planting and harvesting seasons. European fertilizer factories are drastically reducing production due to high energy prices. Farmers from Brazil to Texas are reducing their fertilizers, threatening the size of the next harvests.”
The Times article stated, “’A lot of people think this is just going to mean their bagels are going to get more expensive. And that’s absolutely true, but that’s not what it’s about,” said Ben Isaacson, a longtime agricultural analyst at Scotiabank. Since the 1970s, North Africa and the Middle East have been grappling with repeated uprisings. ‘What drove people to take to the streets and protest?‘ he said. ‘It starts with food shortages and food price inflation.’”
Meanwhile, Alistair MacDonald reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that “Ukrainian farmer Igor Borisov has 2,000 metric tons of corn from the fall crop stuck in a warehouse behind Russian battle lines. Like other farmers across Ukraine, his crop this year is also in jeopardy.
“Global fears that Russia’s invasion will reduce Ukraine’s 2022 harvest have resulted. the crop shortfall will spread to many countries who depend on Ukraine for wheat, corn and cooking oil.
“With wheat already in the ground and only a few weeks to plant corn, Ukrainian farmers cannot get the fertilizers and chemicals they need. They consume little fuel for tractors and other agricultural equipment. Workers quit to join the struggle or to leave the country, leaving the farms understaffed.
Today’s article stated that “Mr Borisov said he and other farmers were to start growing corn, sunflower and barley in April and May. This is now in question, and the impact on food supplies and prices will be felt around the world.
“’We hope to plant, and we want to plant, but the situation is completely unpredictable” Mr Borisov said. “You cannot make predictions about Vladimir Putin. ‘
“Ukraine’s nutrient-rich soils produce 10% of global wheat exports, 14% of corn exports and about half of the world’s sunflower oil, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
In just three weeks, the war has disrupted Ukrainian agriculture, driving up prices as well as the threat of global shortages.
“A large part of the exports is destined for Developing economies already struggling with food price inflation.
MacDonald added that “Russia’s naval blockade and fighting around Ukrainian ports has virtually stopped shipping and left limited means for transporting goods. Wheat prices hit record highs due to the effect on Ukrainian and Russian shipments.
“Like Ukraine’s military efforts, the country’s agricultural sector is mobilizing. Exports are being rerouted and Ukraine is asking the United States, Poland, France and others for supplies, said Taras Vysotskyi, Ukraine’s deputy minister for agrarian policy and food. In a best-case scenario, the country’s agricultural exports will fall by a fifth this year compared to 2021, he said, but a much larger drop is more likely..
“Should the Russian forces leave immediatelysaid Dmitry Skorniakov, his four farms would still have a hard time getting back to work. Tractors, chemical sprayers and a grain silo were destroyed at a farm near the besieged city of Mariupol, he said. Some of its workers left to join the defense of the country.
Also today, Reuters News reported that “the war between Ukraine and Russia, two of the largest crop producers in the world, could lead to a “worldwide” food crisisFrench Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said Monday in Brussels ahead of an EU meeting on agriculture.
And Financial Times writer Andy Bounds reported yesterday that “EU reviews bloc’s sustainable food strategy after a concerted push against planned reforms by national governments, farmers and the agricultural industry.
“Brussels agreed two years ago to reform its farming practices as part of a campaign to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a drop in grain and fertilizer exports from these countries and are concerned about food safety.
“The bloc’s agriculture ministers are meeting on Monday to discuss both short-term measures to mitigate the risk of shortages and rising prices and possible changes to its sustainable farm-to-fork food strategy.