The war in Ukraine could have a huge impact on countries thousands of kilometres from the Eastern European region, a World Food Programme analyst has warned.
The conflict is already directly disrupting physical, logistical, and market dynamics in the Black Sea region — a key route for wheat, feed grains, and sunflower products to reach the world markets, particularly the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
This has made prices rise and with the war no closer to ending, the trend is set to continue.
One part of a solution could come from other producer countries that could feed the rest of the world.
But that doesn’t seem easy as 23 countries have already declared severe restrictions on food exports, or even outright bans because of extreme climate phenomena and fears of domestic shortages
India was one of the main countries to impose a ban as it was hit by an intense and unreasonable heatwave.
For economic analyst from World Food Programme, Eugenio Dacrema, this “is a major problem”.
“India was supposed to be kind of the last resort and last hope for the stability of the wheat market”
Dacrema says that there are countries with “a deficit in domestic production” and few of them will be able to import “key essential items like wheat”. This will cause instability and hunger.
Back in March, the United Nation’s World Food Programme projected that if the conflict did not end by the end of May, there would be additional 47 million people in food insecurity worldwide.
But things seem to be worse because the impact has been even bigger over the last two months than expected.
“Since the war is not over, the troubles on the international food market are not over yet, they are probably just beginning. It’s only natural to think that this is only going to increase, not to be solved”.
Pakistan and Kenya are some of the countries Dacrema believes have already had protests related to food rises.
The World Food Programme also stressed that alongside conflict we have entered a ‘new normal’ where droughts, flooding, hurricanes, and cyclones repeatedly decimate farming and livestock rearing and all of them can lead to mass migration very soon.
Food is used as a weapon, says the EU
“Food has become now part of the Kremlin’s arsenal of terror and we cannot tolerate it”. Those were the strong words of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The EU Commission President is accusing Moscow of weaponising the supply of food by blocking Ukraine’s port of Odesa and even by stealing Ukrainian grains.
This comes on top of the global food shortage stemming from the pandemic’s disruption of supply chains as well as the effects of climate change.