In total, Ukraine and Russia account for 30 percent of global wheat production and 20 percent of world corn production. As long as the conflict and fighting in Ukraine continue, the grain in the country will be both difficult to sow and harvest. Wheat and maize are the primary food for billions of people, and now the war in Europe's granary risks contributing to increased food security in countries in Africa and the Middle East.
"The conflict in Ukraine is catastrophic for the Ukrainian people, but it is also a catastrophe for people a thousand kilometers away," he said. Anne Poulsen, head of the World Food Program (WFP) in the Nordic countries, to the magazine Omvärlden.
The World Food Program (WFP) is one of the UN agencies and according to their forecasts, around 45 million people in 43 countries are currently at risk of starvation. Only in view of the impending food crisis in sub-Saharan Africa has the need for WFP support reached new record levels, reports Omvärlden. East Africa is a particularly vulnerable area whose arable land has recently been hit by crop failure due to drought, which has also raised food prices. In addition, wheat from Russia and Ukraine makes up 90% of East Africa's total wheat imports.
Increased wheat prices risk leading to a hunger crisis
Yemen and Afghanistan, two of the world's poorest countries, are at risk of food shortages as a result the war in Ukraine. In Yemen, food prices have risen sharply in recent years, while 95 percent of all wheat is imported into the country, of which just over 30 percent comes from Ukraine and Russia. Now the war in Ukraine, and the consequent reduction in the supply of wheat, is expected to increase the price of the cereal.
- The world is facing the worst hunger crisis of the century, and the number of people at risk of starvation has increased by 60 percent since before the pandemic. The situation in Ukraine leads to more expensive wheat and increased hunger in other parts of the world - including in Yemen, says Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, international manager at Save the Children, in a press release.
Food transport - the biggest challenge
During the pandemic, we witnessed how countries that initially had good access to protective equipment, respirators and, after a while, vaccines, were reluctant to share these with other countries. If the food situation now worsens, there are fears that protective tariffs on food will be introduced, and that countries will act in a similar way as in the beginning of pandemic.
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch points to the importance of cooperating internationally in a global food crisis. The organization believes that countries that export food must satisfy national needs, at the same time as joint work should take place with import-dependent countries to establish alternative food chains. That is, countries that are dependent on food imports from Ukraine and Russia should be given the opportunity to cooperate with other food-exporting countries and thus set up new trade routes for food.
Lama Fakih, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch, also highlights the importance of coordinating action to try to prevent the war in Ukraine from exacerbating the already existing food crisis in the world.
"Global food chains demand global solidarity in times of crisis," he said Lama Fakih.