US: The war in Ukraine has delivered a shock to global energy markets. Now the planet is facing a deeper crisis: a shortage of food.
A crucial portion of the world’s wheat, corn and barley is trapped in Russia and Ukraine because of the war, while an even larger portion of the world’s fertilisers is stuck in Russia and Belarus.
The result is that global food and fertiliser prices are soaring. Since the invasion last month, wheat prices have increased by 21 per cent, barley by 33 per cent and some fertilisers by 40 per cent.
The upheaval is compounded by major challenges that were already increasing prices and squeezing supplies, including the pandemic, shipping constraints, high energy costs and recent droughts, floods and fires.
Now economists, aid organisations and government officials are warning of the repercussions: an increase in world hunger.
The looming disaster is laying bare the consequences of a major war in the modern era of globalisation. Prices for food, fertiliser, oil, gas and even metals like aluminum, nickel and palladium are all rising fast – and experts expect worse as the effects cascade.
“Ukraine has only compounded a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe,” said Mr David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, the UN agency that feeds 125 million people a day. “There is no precedent even close to this since World War II.”
Around the world, the result will be even-higher grocery bills. In February, US grocery prices were already up 8.6 per cent over a year prior, the largest increase in 40 years, according to government data. Economists expect the war to further inflate those prices.
– THE STRAITS TIMES