UN: Russia-Ukraine conflict could cause global food shortage
Russia and Ukraine play a significant role in the world's food production and supply, says the director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Qu Dongyu.
Director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Qu Dongyu, said that disruption to agricultural production in Russia and Ukraine could seriously exacerbate global food insecurity.
In a statement issued on Friday, he outlined how the two countries play a significant role in the world's food production and supply.
“Russia is the world’s largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is the fifth-largest. Together, they provide 19% of the world’s barley supply, 14% of wheat, and 4% of maize, making up more than one-third of global cereal exports,” he stated.
See more: The global wheat supply crisis
Qu also added that the two countries are the world's leading suppliers of rapeseed and account for 52% of the world's sunflower oil export market. The global fertilizer supply is also highly concentrated, with Russia leading the way.
Furthermore, he explained that supply chain and logistical disruptions in Ukrainian and Russian grain and oilseed production, as well as Russian export restrictions, will have a significant impact on food security.
“This is especially true for some 50 countries that depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30% or more of their wheat supply,” Qu said.
Food prices, which had been rising since the second half of 2020, reached an all-time high in February 2022 as a result of high demand, input and transportation costs not to mention port disruptions.
According to UN data, global wheat and barley prices increased by 31% between 2021 and 2022. Rapeseed and sunflower oil prices have risen by more than 60%. Fertilizer prices have risen as a result of high demand and volatile natural gas prices. As a result, the price of urea, a key nitrogen fertilizer, has more than tripled in the last year.
“The conflict’s intensity and duration remain uncertain. The likely disruptions to agricultural activities of these two major exporters of staple commodities could seriously escalate food insecurity globally when international food and input prices are already high and volatile,” Qu concluded.