Food (in)security

UN World Food Program
Hunger Pains: the growing global food crisis
Best of Quirks & Quarks – Feeding the Future

IMF scrambles to ease worst food price shock in more than a decade
(Devex) The global food price shock is at least as bad as the devastating crisis of 2007-08 and could worsen, the International Monetary Fund said Friday, warning that 48 vulnerable countries are seeing their import bills climb by about $9 billion over this year and next.
Some $50 billion in global support is needed to eradicate food insecurity, the fund said, but even more would be needed in investments to permanently end chronic problems such as malnutrition. While Russia’s war against Ukraine is a major factor, the food pricing problem has been brewing since 2018 due to climate change, conflicts, and then the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the IMF board on Friday approved a new emergency financing window that enables countries to borrow funds to support balance-of-payment issues arising from the shocks, both on the import and export sides. Low-income countries can borrow through the window at concessional rates.
How UN clinched secret Ukraine grain deal with Putin
(Devex Newswire) War had just broken out in Ukraine, and Russia was using food as a bargaining chip. We go behind the scenes of a battleground deal that allowed cargo ships to move safely from blockaded ports on the Black Sea.

28 September
Ending hunger is something for ‘whole country to work on together,’ Biden says
Today, President Biden promoted a goal to end hunger in the United States by 2030 as he delivered an address at the first White House conference on hunger since 1969. Biden said his administration is announcing $8 billion in public- and private-sector commitments to help reach the goal and said the push should be bipartisan and something for “the whole country to work on together.”

23 September
Here’s what will happen at the first White House hunger summit since 1969
(NPR) President Joe Biden will headline the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health on Sept. 28, unveiling his plan to make good on a pledge to end hunger and diet-related diseases by 2030.
[The] Nixon-era conference led to the creation of the big programs underpinning U.S. hunger response, like food stamps and child nutrition assistance.
Food, hunger and nutrition advocates are closely watching for the release of the new White House strategy, which many hope will be as transformational for food and health as the first conference’s plan.
Background: Biden’s goal to end hunger by 2030 and his new food conference, explained

19 September
Ian Bremmer: War in Ukraine looms large as world leaders meet at the United Nations
The mood in New York ahead of the 77th UN General Assembly is understandably bleak.
Top of the agenda at UNGA is also the global food crisis fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change and aggravated by Russia’s invasion. In an interview for GZERO World, [Secretary-General António] Guterres told me that unless the deal to get Ukrainian grain shipments out brokered by himself and Turkey is extended to include Russian fertilizer—a key input for global food production—the world could well run out of food next year. At the moment there are no signs that progress on this front could be at hand.

15-16 September
Extreme hunger soaring in world’s climate hotspots, says Oxfam
Charity says 19 million people facing starvation in report highlighting link with extreme weather
Extreme hunger is closely linked to the climate crisis, with many areas of the world most affected by extreme weather experiencing severe food shortages, research has shown.
The development charity Oxfam examined 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots, afflicted by drought, floods, severe storms and other extreme weather, and found their rates of extreme hunger had more than doubled in the past six years.
Within the countries studied, 48 million people are currently suffering from acute hunger, up from about 21 million people in 2016. Of these, about 18 million people are on the brink of starvation, according to the Oxfam report published on Thursday.
HUNGER IN A HEATING WORLD: How the climate crisis is fuelling hunger in an already hungry world
Climate change is deepening hunger in 10 of the world’s worst climate hotspots: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Somalia and Zimbabwe. These countries – which had the highest number of UN appeals driven by extreme weather events – have repeatedly been battered by extreme weather over the last two decades. Today, 48 million people across those countries suffer acute hunger (up from 21 million in 2016), and 18 million people of them are on the brink of starvation.

14 August
The first U.N. ship carrying Ukrainian grain for Africa prepares to depart.
The Brave Commander, a Lebanese-flagged freighter, was scheduled to depart later in the day from Pivdennyi, one of Ukraine’s largest ports on the Black Sea, near Odesa. It is the first ship specially chartered by the World Food Program as part of an effort to direct much-needed grain to countries affected most by food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last year, Ukrainian grain is estimated to have fed 400 million people, according to [Marianne Ward of the World Food Program], and the absence of shipments from Ukrainian ports blockaded by Russian warships in the Black Sea has had profound repercussions around the globe. Prices have soared and tens of millions of people, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, have been put at risk of famine.
At least five countries are now experiencing famine-like conditions and another 20 are on the “watch list for famine,” said Denise Brown, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine
Ship carrying grain for hungry Ethiopia leaves Ukraine
(AP) — A United Nations-chartered ship loaded with 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian grain destined for Ethiopia set sail Sunday from a Black Sea port, the first shipment of its kind in a program to assist countries facing famine.
Ethiopia is one of five countries that the U.N. considers at risk of starvation.

1-7 August
More Ukrainian grain shipments under way
Four ships carrying almost 170,000 tons of agricultural products left Chornomorsk port early Sunday [August 7].
The Turkish Defense Ministry said the Glory carried 66,000 tons of corn and was heading to Istanbul. The Riva Wind, which is loaded with 44,000 tons of corn is traveling to Iskenderun in Turkey’s south, near Syria. The Star Helena will head towards China with some 45,000 tons of sunflower seeds, while the Mustafa Necati will dock in Italy with about 6,000 tons of sunflower oil. All the ships will first be checked in the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, according to the Defense Ministry. They’re expected to dock in the city on Monday afternoon and evening, according to MarineTraffic.
Ukraine seeks to extend shipping safe passage deal beyond grain
(Reuters) The Turkish bulk carrier Osprey S, flying the flag of Liberia, was expected to arrive in Chornomorsk on Friday [August 5] to load up with grain, the regional administration of Odesa said.
Ukraine hopes to export 20 million tonnes of grain in silos and 40 million from its new harvest, economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said in July. The government hopes to earn $10 billion from those volumes but Ustenko said it could take 20 to 24 months to export them if ports are not functioning properly.
Odesa strike shows it will not be easy to export grain via ports
3 more ships with grain depart Ukraine ports under UN deal
(AP) — Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn left Ukrainian ports Friday and traveled mined waters toward inspection of their delayed cargo, a sign that an international deal to export grain held up since Russia invaded Ukraine was slowly progressing. But major hurdles lie ahead to get food to the countries that need it most.
The ships bound for Ireland, the United Kingdom and Turkey follow the first grain shipment to pass through the Black Sea since the start of the war. The first vessels to leave are among more than a dozen bulk carriers and cargo ships loaded months ago but stuck in ports since Russia invaded in late February. While the resumed shipments have raised hopes of easing a global food crisis, much of the backed-up cargo is for animal feed, not for people to eat, experts say.
Grain is flowing from Ukrainian ports again. Do you think a decoupling of the conflict’s intensity from the food security emergency is possible before winter?
Ian Bremmer: The first grain ship only just left Ukraine on Monday. That’s welcome news but it’ll take months (if not years) for export levels to normalize. Exporters have had trouble securing shipping insurance and finding willing crews, and it remains to be seen whether Russia will hold up its end of the deal. Even if they didn’t kill the agreement, the Russian missile strikes on the port of Odesa and the killing of grain exporter Oleksiy Vadatursky were hardly positive signs for implementation. So food security will remain a big challenge for months, and an escalation of the war could certainly make the issue worse. The good (yet still bad) news is we have probably already passed peak food prices due to global recession fears.

Inspectors OK 1st Ukraine grain ship but no sign yet of more
(AP) — The first grain ship to leave Ukraine and cross the Black Sea under a wartime deal passed inspection Wednesday in Istanbul and headed on to Lebanon. Ukraine said 17 other vessels were “loaded and waiting permission to leave,” but there was no word yet on when they could depart.
A joint civilian inspection team spent three hours checking the cargo and crew of the Sierra Leone-flagged ship Razoni, which left Odesa on Monday carrying Ukrainian corn, a U.N. statement said.
A U.N. statement said three Ukrainian ports are due to resume exports of millions of tons of wheat, corn and other crops. It said inspectors “gained valuable information” from the Razoni’s crew about its voyage through the Black Sea maritime humanitarian corridor.
‘Glimmer of hope’ as Ukraine grain ship leaves Odesa
First Ukraine grain ship bound for Lebanon
U.N. expresses hope it will be the first of many
France says Russian strikes undermining agreement
Russia welcomes ship’s departure, blames Ukraine for risks

29 July
Ships going dark: Russia’s grain smuggling in the Black Sea
(FT) Even before Russian troops poured into Ukraine in February, shipping goods out of Crimea was illegal for many companies: the region has been covered by a patchwork of sanctions since it was annexed in 2014. The registered owners of Sevastopol’s grain terminal have been directly targeted by US sanctions for being a subsidiary of a Russian state-owned enterprise, United Shipbuilding Corporation. Companies trading with the occupied territory also risk action by Ukrainian prosecutors.
But in recent weeks, the shipments have become even more controversial after Ukrainian authorities claimed Crimean ports, including Sevastopol, are being used to export grain looted from their country, primarily from areas of the south-east that have been occupied by Russian forces this year. In early June, Russian state media acknowledged that grain was being sent from Melitopol, in the occupied south of Ukraine, to be exported from Crimea.
Lloyd’s to insure Black Sea grain shipments for up to $50M each
Lloyd’s of London insurers will offer a special package to cover Ukrainian grain shipped via freshly-agreed Black Sea corridors in a move that will build confidence around the U.N. agreement, it was announced Friday.
One of the chief worries after the U.N., Turkey, Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement to reopen three Black Sea ports around Odesa last week centered on providing security assurances to private trading companies, who operate the vast majority of the grain ships.

26 July
After Russian port strike, Ukraine grain deal hangs in the balance
(WaPo) Friday’s announcement of a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to export grain trapped in Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea offered a moment of hope.
But less than 24 hours after the deal was finalized, two Russian missiles struck the port in Odessa
Saturday’s missile strike drew international condemnation after weeks of growing optimism that an agreement would allow for the safe export of grain and ease a mounting global food crisis. And it was a blow to those in Ukraine whose livelihoods depend on the shipping and selling of grain abroad.

23 July
The long-term threats to global food security go far beyond Ukraine
A Black Sea deal on food may ease the short-term crisis — but bigger problems lie on the horizon
By Evan Dyer
(CBC) Food prices have risen across the world — but in Sri Lanka in May, food already cost an average of 57 per cent more than it did just a year earlier, pushing 30 per cent of households into hunger and leading to a public uprising that brought the government crashing down. Since then, things have only grown more desperate.
Local factors in Sri Lanka — such as a ban on the importation of fertilizers — aggravated global factors like the war in Ukraine.
But across the world, those temporary disruptions are playing out against a backdrop of ominous trends that threaten the world’s ability to feed itself in the long term. And Canada is not immune to those trends.
The effects of a warming climate on crops are uneven. On the northern fringes of a crop’s range, it can actually increase yields.
“We’re not sure how climate change is going to pan out. There are lots of different models, but it certainly looks like where food is produced is going to be possibly changed,” said Clarence Swanton, a member of the Expert Panel on Plant Health Risks in Canada assembled by the Council of Canadian Academies. “To what extent, it’s not clear yet.”
Some parts of the world face prospects much worse than those confronting cooler, temperate countries like Canada. India, for example, is likely to see significant drops in food production.

22 July
EU plans to ease crop rotation rules as global food risks mount
(Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday proposed a temporary suspension of EU crop rotation rules to increase cereal production and help head off a global food security crisis due to the impact of the war in Ukraine.
The European Union executive said in a statement that its plan, which followed a request from the bloc’s member states, said the short-term derogation would put 1.5 million hectares of land back into production compared to today.

21-22 July
Russia, Ukraine sign grain export deal at Istanbul ceremony
Agreement set to allow grain to be exported from Ukrainian Black Sea ports amid fears of a global food crisis.
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, signed the deal separately on Friday, carefully avoiding sitting at the same table and avoiding shaking hands
21 July
UN chief visits Turkey for grain talks
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was traveling to Turkey on Thursday in a bid to get Russia and Ukraine agree on an elusive deal to allow grain exports out of Ukraine’s Black Sea.
Over 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain have been blocked by Russian forces, as well as landmines that Ukraine has laid to avert a feared assault.
Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and UN diplomats are due to meet on [22 July]. A first round of talks last week had no breakthroughs, although Guterres said he was hoping the warring sides could reach a final agreement this week.

13 July
Breakthrough at Ukraine grain export talks as heavy shelling continues
By Yesim Dikmen and Michelle Nichols
(Reuters) – Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey hailed progress at talks in Istanbul with Russia designed to resume Black Sea grain exports and ease the risk of starvation faced by millions, but an end to the war remained far off as heavy shelling continued.
Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said an agreement would be signed next week. He said Ankara will ensure the safety of shipments in transit and the parties will jointly check grain cargoes in ports. But U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said more work was needed before a deal was signed.
More than 130 grain ships stuck in Black Sea as talks start in Istanbul
Negotiators from Russia, Ukraine, the UN and Turkey seek deal to enable exports to pass on to the Danube
A traffic jam of more than 130 cargo ships loaded with Ukrainian grain is waiting in the Black Sea to pass into the Danube as negotiators from Moscow, Kyiv, the UN and Turkey hailed progress at talks in Istanbul on easing Ukrainian agricultural exports
The ships are waiting to access exit routes through the Sulina and Bystre estuary canals to reach a series of ports and terminals in Romania from where the grain can be transported on around the world, amid mounting global concern about the Russian blockade on Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea.
Until recently, the Bystre estuary route had been closed, but that has changed with the removal of Russian forces from Snake Island.

11 July
Space agriculture boldly grows food where no one has grown before
Ajwal Dsouza, PhD Candidate, Environmental Sciences & Thomas Graham, Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph
As access to space increases, the potential for terrestrial benefits directly tied to space exploration grow exponentially.
(The Conversation) Whether to spend money on outer space exploration or to apply it to solve serious problems on Earth, like climate change and food shortages, is a contentious debate. But one argument in favour of space exploration highlights benefits that do, in fact, help study, monitor and address serious concerns like climate change and food production.
Growing a More Sustainable Future
How corn’s conservation practices result in sustainable outcomes for America
Consumers across the country are feeling the trickle-down effect of inflation, food shortages and supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic. And the burden of helping to solve this crisis is falling on the shoulders of American farmers.
Corn is a versatile crop providing abundant high-quality food, feed, renewable energy, biobased products and ecosystem services.

1 July
Food insecurity and economic misery in low-income countries
Carlos Arteta and Sergiy Kasyanenko
In the poorest countries of the world, a quick return to economic growth and prosperity is the surest antidote to all these problems, including climate change.
(Brookings) The deterioration in the global economic landscape has exacerbated suffering in the world’s poorest countries. Still recovering from the sharp downturn caused by the pandemic, low-income countries (LICs) are being hit hard by soaring inflation at home and rising global interest rates. Dislocations in global commodity markets due to the pandemic, amplified by the war in Ukraine, have led to food and fuel shortages and to surging prices of staple consumer goods. This is eroding real incomes, exacerbating food insecurity, and worsening extreme poverty in LICs.
Food consumption accounts for 45 percent of total household expenditure in low-income economies, and diet is heavily based on staple foods including wheat. All LICs are food-deficit countries reliant on imported foods. Imports of wheat from just Russia and Ukraine account for about 14 percent of total caloric intake in a median LIC, compared with just 3 percent in the median emerging market and developing economy. Disruptions to wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine and surging global food prices are slowing LIC growth and increasing extreme poverty, particularly in countries where sizeable segments of the population were already experiencing acute food insecurity

Food Security and the Coming Storm
Over the next three months, Eurasia Group believes the war will degenerate into a prolonged stalemate (a 70% probability). Alternatively, diplomatic efforts could yield a climbdown (a 5% probability), or there may be an escalation of the conflict into a scorched earth campaign (a 25% probability). Both the base case of stalemate and the escalation scenario would entail serious damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and agricultural production as well as a blockage of Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea until late 2022 or beyond.
On the basis of these scenarios, Gro Intelligence has estimated the income-implied number of people globally who are food insecure, at risk of extreme poverty, and hanging on the edge of famine, according to World Bank and World Food Programme (WFP) definitions. When paired with Eurasia Group’s scenario probabilities, the analysis suggests there is a 95% chance that the number of people facing food insecurity will rise by about 142 million-243 million by November, from roughly 1.6 billion in mid-May.  (23 May 2022)

24 June
War in Ukraine drives global food crisis
(WFP) A global food crisis fuelled by conflict, climate shocks and the COVID-19 pandemic is growing because of the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine driving rising prices of food, fuel and fertilizer. Millions of people across the world are at risk of being driven into starvation unless action is taken now to respond together and at scale. Due to the unprecedented overlap of crises, WFP’s annual operational requirements are at an all-time high of US$22.2 billion, with confirmed contributions so far at US$4.8 billion (22 percent). WFP is calling for coordinated action to address this crisis.

20 June
Understanding the WTO Ministerial Meeting: What just happened and what’s next?
(World Economic Forum) Agriculture and food security – In the midst of a global food crisis, with wheat prices 60% higher in June 2022 than they were in January 2021, there was pressure for the WTO to deliver a meaningful outcome on trade and food security. Members promised to ensure that any emergency food security measures would be minimally trade-distortive, “temporary, targeted and transparent” and notified to the WTO. They also agreed not to prohibit or restrict food exports purchased by the World Food Programme for humanitarian purposes. This does not override existing exceptions in the WTO agreements for measures taken on domestic food security grounds. Beyond these outcomes, Members were unable to agree on a work programme for future negotiations in agriculture due to longstanding differences.
Why that’s important: These actions can help tackle food security risks stemming from the war in Ukraine and poor harvests.

17 June
France and Turkey propose rival plans to get grain out of Ukraine
Macron favours land routes to Romania from Odesa whereas Ankara wants to use shipping lanes through Black Sea
(The Guardian) Rival plans to export Ukraine’s vitally needed grain have been drawn up by France and Turkey, as concern grows over the potential impact on the world’s poorest people of failures so far to get the grain out of the country.
The Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, said it was vital a timeline to release the grain is prepared by the time the G7 summit starts next weekend. “A series of deadlines are fast approaching and the drama of a world famine naturally concentrated in the poorest parts of the world, especially Africa, is approaching,” he said following talks with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Thursday.
Italy is backing the idea of a UN resolution, so far rejected by Russia, that would allow a UN convoy to police grain ships that left the Ukrainian-held Black Sea port of Odesa and other ports and then sailed towards the Bosphorus. But the French president, Emmanuel Macron, is sceptical that a UN resolution will be agreed and is proposing instead a massive stepping up of grain exports out of Romanian ports.
In a change of tack, Turkey is now promoting the option of safe routes out of three Ukrainian ports, even though the ports have not been de-mined. Previously it had been assumed that more than 400 mines would need to be removed, but Ukraine is wary of clearing a passage for Russian ships to enter its ports unless it has cast-iron UN security guarantees if Russia was to mount a surprise attack.
David Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian negotiating team speaking at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, cast doubt on the plan. “Our military people are against it so that is why we have very limited optimism about this model,” he said.
It would take two weeks to de-mine the harbours and then it would be necessary to empty the silos in time for September and the new harvest.

16 June
David Ignatius: The ripple effect of the Ukraine war is ‘a potential mass starvation event’
(WaPo) “When war is waged, people go hungry,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned last month. That’s precisely what’s starting to happen as the war in Ukraine ravages the world’s food supplies.
Global food shortages are a largely invisible consequence of the Ukraine war, whose combatants happen to be two of the world’s largest grain exporters. The ripple effect in global markets is just beginning. But a senior White House official warns that unless steps are taken quickly, the war could trigger “a potential mass starvation event.”
The numbers are frightening. Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, estimates that the conflict has blocked export of 30 percent of the world’s wheat and barley. The Center for Global Development predicts that price spikes for food and energy will push 40 million people into extreme poverty and food insecurity. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that global food prices are 30 percent higher than a year ago.
Guterres has been working for weeks to try to lift the Black Sea embargo, in a deal that would facilitate Russia’s exports of food and fertilizer, as well as Ukraine’s. He has been negotiating quietly with Turkey, Russia and Ukraine, and he hopes to hold a meeting next week in Turkey with three countries to discuss plans for reopening the Black Sea to commerce, including escorts for cargo vessels.
This U.N. Black Sea discussion has been one of the few mediation channels that remain open.

15 June
Unblocking the Black Sea for Ukrainian Grain
Bradley Martin, senior policy researcher, RAND Corporation, & William Courtney, adjunct senior fellow at RAND and former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan
(Rand blog) …while Russia might be able to find or engage ships, its ability to sustain a blockade is not certain. This is particularly true if merchant ships receive warship escort. Crucially, any modern navy with reasonably capable air defense ships could protect shipping along the western edge of the Black Sea from a range of Russian air and missile threats. And any navy with patrol boats or small combatants could perform simple escort functions, offering some level of protection and maritime awareness.
There is no evidence that Russia has laid dense or difficult-to-penetrate minefields. A sparsely laid minefield can do damage and have psychological effect. But such threats are not an effective way to stop shipping, particularly if countermeasures are applied.
Therefore, Russia could have a difficult time interdicting grain-carrying vessels in the western Black Sea. It could resort to missile attacks without accurate targeting, but they may not reliably hit intended targets. Interdiction could be even more challenging if the global community voiced strong opposition and international navies joined in a humanitarian escorting mission.

14 June
Why Russia Will Be Reticent to Unblock Ukraine’s Grain Exports
(RANE/Stratfor) Even if talks on ending Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine to allow grain exports via the Black Sea continue, major obstacles to an agreement and its implementation mean that Ukraine’s grain exports will remain strained, maintaining pressure on global food prices and fueling war fatigue in the West and around the world. On June 8, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met in Ankara where, among other topics, they discussed measures to create a sea lane to resume Ukraine’s grain exports via the Black Sea as a part of a U.N.-backed effort to address the global food crisis. According to reports, Turkey is open to an agreement that would involve Turkish warships demining Ukrainian ports and creating a safe passage for ships carrying wheat and other products from Ukrainian waters.

12 June
Cautious optimism at high-stakes WTO meet
Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking its toll on global food security
The World Trade Organization chief voiced cautious optimism Sunday as global trade ministers gathered to tackle food security threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, overfishing and equitable access to Covid vaccines.
Even before the conference began, the European Union gathered representatives from 57 countries for a show [of] solidarity with Ukraine, with EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis slamming Russia’s “illegal and barbaric aggression” Despite the contentious atmosphere, ministers are expected to agree on a joint declaration on strengthening food security, in which they will “commit to take concrete steps to facilitate trade and improve the functioning and long-term resilience of global markets for food and agriculture”.

At Ministerial Conference, WTO faces litmus test on food security issue
(Business Standard) Despite making all the correct noises, the WTO members have failed to walk the talk as evident in divergent positions on food security
Global food insecurity has reached troubling dimensions, with the number of severely food-insecure people having doubled to 276 million during the past two years. Despite making all the correct noises, the World Trade Organization (WTO) members have failed to walk the talk as evident in divergent positions on food security.
In the upcoming 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC-12), more than 80 developing countries including least developed country (LDC) members have been demanding a permanent solution to the issue of public stockholding (PSH) programmes for food security purposes.

5-8 June
WTO boss warns of global food crisis
By Tom Espiner, Business reporter,
(BBC News) A food crisis kicked off by the Ukraine war could last for years without intervention, the head of the World Trade Organization has said.
African countries could be hit especially hard by wheat and fertilizer shortages, WTO director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told the BBC.
The United Nations is leading efforts to try to establish a “grain corridor” with a Turkish naval escort for tankers leaving Odessa and other Ukrainian ports.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Ukraine needs to clear mines from its Black Sea ports.
UN plan to get Ukraine grains out faces hurdles
Turkey says sea corridor for Ukrainian grain exports overseen by Ankara requires more talks with Moscow and Kyiv to ensure ships would be safe.
(Al Jazeera) The UN has proposed a plan for a sea corridor to transport Ukrainian grain exports, and Turkey has agreed to help facilitate the process. But Ankara says it needs guarantees from Moscow and Kyiv that its ships will be safe. The proposal is an attempt to help ease a growing global food crisis by shipping grain that’s been stuck at Black Sea ports due to the war in Ukraine. But the Kremlin says its cooperation will depend on ending sanctions against Russia, while Ukraine has called Moscow’s conditions unreasonable.
Russia, Turkey back plan to export grains; Ukraine doubtful
(AP) — Russia and Turkey voiced support Wednesday for a safe corridor in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian grain exports, but Kyiv rejected the proposal, saying it was not credible. The European Union accused Moscow of “weaponizing” food supplies to gain an advantage in the war.
Russia also demanded that Ukraine remove mines from the Black Sea and both Moscow and Ankara said the West should ease sanctions on Moscow to allow the export of Russian grains amid an escalating world food crisis. While food exports are technically exempt from the sanctions, Russia claims that restrictions on its ships and banks make it impossible to deliver its grain to global markets.
Turkey struggles to push Russia, Ukraine into grain deal to avert food crisis
(Reuters) – Turkish efforts to ease a global food crisis by negotiating safe passage for grain stuck in Black Sea ports met resistance as Ukraine said Russia was imposing unreasonable conditions and the Kremlin said free shipment depended on an end to sanctions.

How do you get 20m tonnes of grain out of Ukraine?
War presents diplomatic and logistical challenges as silos of world’s fifth-biggest wheat exporter fill up
(The Guardian) A clock is ticking inside the towering, multistorey warehouses on the quayside at the Black Sea port of Odesa on the Ukrainian coast.
One huge metal structure alone contains a quarter of a million tonnes of grain, yet represents just over 1% of the estimated 20m tonnes trapped in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in late February.
Hundreds more of these “grain elevators” are scattered across the world’s fifth-biggest wheat exporting country: next to roads, at railway terminals, and at ports. Yet still full of last year’s harvest, these towers are already almost at capacity.
As war in Ukraine drags on, fears of global food crisis grow
By BERNAT ARMANGUÉ and YURAS KARMANAU
(AP) — Ukrainian and Russian forces battled fiercely for control of a key eastern city Wednesday, while fears of a global food crisis escalated as millions of tons of grain pile up inside the besieged country, unable to be exported by sea because of the war.
Russia has expressed support for the creation of a safe corridor at sea that would allow Ukraine to resume grain shipments. Under the proposal, Ukraine would have to remove its mines from the waters near the Black Sea port of Odesa, and Russia would be allowed to check incoming vessels for weapons.
Ukraine, though, has expressed fear that clearing the mines could enable Russia to attack the coast. Ukrainian officials have said that the Kremlin’s repeated assurances that it would not take advantage of the situation cannot be trusted.

Amid Russian naval blockades, Ukrainian farmers fear their grain has nowhere to go
(CBC) …with Ukraine’s major ports either under Russia’s control or hemmed in by its naval blockade, the coming harvest is greeted with as much trepidation here as in the rest of the country. About 20 million tonnes of wheat is already stuck in Ukraine with nowhere to go, leading to dire warnings from the United Nations about the potential impact on global hunger. “It’s a nightmare right now,” said Oleg Kostyuk, general manager with the Ukrainian freight company Formag Group Ltd.
“We have over 80 ships, merchant ships, docked in Ukrainian ports — I’m not talking only about Odesa — full and ready to go for export. At the same time, port silos are full of old crop and land silos are also full.”
Russia Seeks Buyers for Plundered Ukraine Grain, U.S. Warns
American diplomats have alerted 14 countries, most in Africa, that Russian ships filled with stolen Ukrainian grain could be headed their way, posing a dilemma to countries facing dire food shortages.
(NYT) Russia has bombed, blockaded and plundered the grain production capacity of Ukraine, which accounts for one-tenth of global wheat exports, resulting in dire forecasts of increased hunger and of spiking food prices around the world.
Now, the United States has warned that the Kremlin is trying to profit from that plunder by selling stolen wheat to drought-stricken countries in Africa, some facing possible famine.
The American alert about the grain has only sharpened the dilemma for African countries, many already feeling trapped between East and West, as they potentially face a hard choice between, on one hand, benefiting from possible war crimes and displeasing a powerful Western ally, and on the other, refusing cheap food at a time when wheat prices are soaring and hundreds of thousands of people are starving.
Russia and Ukraine normally supply about 40 percent of wheat needs in Africa, where prices for the grain have risen 23 percent in the past year, the United Nations says. In the Horn of Africa region, a devastating drought has left 17 million people hungry, mostly in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, according to the United Nations. More than 200,000 people in Somalia are on the brink of famine.

6 June
Long-standing systems for sustainable farming could feed people and the planet — if industry is willing to step back
(The Conversation) Global food systems are at a breaking point. Not only are they responsible for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, they are also the top contributors to water pollution and biodiversity collapse.
On top of that, many aspects of our food systems are extremely vulnerable to disruptions from climate change and other shocks, as we saw in the first months of the pandemic.
Agroecology — an approach to farming long practised by Indigenous and peasant communities around the world — could transform our food systems for the better. And agribusinesses in the Global North are actively looking to agroecology to rebrand and build new markets under the banners of carbon farming and regenerative agriculture.
But, a relentless focus on single outcomes, such as carbon, coupled with industry’s instinct to define and standardize, threatens the transformative potential of agroecology.
Agroecology offers the promise of a win-win, where people nourish themselves while restoring ecosystems and addressing the harms and legacies of colonialism.
It is also at the centre of the food sovereignty movement, a global constellation of peasant- and Indgenous-led organizations fighting for the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food, produced in a way that is ecologically sound and socially acceptable. Food sovereignty is arguably the single largest social movement in the world.

3 June
Ian Bremmer: War in Ukraine puts 280 million at risk of hunger
A new report finds that the number of people facing food insecurity globally could rise to 1.9 billion due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Three months in, the war has jolted agricultural markets, leading to soaring food prices and growing global hunger. The FAO’s Cereal Price Index was up 21% between January and April, while the Vegetable Oils Index was up 28% in the same period. Before the war started, there were nearly 1.2 billion people globally facing food insecurity, of which 780 million lived in extreme poverty and almost 39 million were at risk of famine. Fast forward to today, and the ranks of people facing food-related distress have swelled to 1.6 billion, 1.1 billion, and 49 million, respectively.
According to a recent study conducted by Eurasia Group and DevryBV Sustainable Strategies, food insecurity will affect up to 1.9 billion people (nearly one-quarter of the world population) by November 2022. The report, titled Food Security and the Coming Storm, estimates that over the next five months the war will plunge more than 280 million people into food insecurity, 200 million into extreme poverty, and 7 million to the edge of famine.d crisis as Putin meets AU leaders
African countries are acutely affected by the growing crisis, which has sent prices of grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring.
(Al Jazeera) The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin who is meeting African Union leaders, will tell them that Moscow is not to blame for the growing food crisis affecting their continent
“With a high degree of probability and confidence, I can assume that the president will give exhaustive explanations of his vision of the situation with Ukrainian grain,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“The president will tell our African friends the real state of affairs,” Peskov said. “He will explain once again what is happening there, who has mined the ports, what is needed for grain to go, that no one on the Russian side is blocking these ports.”
African Union president urges Russia to end naval blockade
(The World) The head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Friday (3 June). He’s urging Putin to lift Russia’s blockade on cereals and fertilizer from Ukraine. It comes as many of the world’s poorest countries face hunger and starvation amid grain export interruptions because of the war in Ukraine. The UN has also warned that the naval blockade could cause famines around the world. Russia and Ukraine provide more than 40% of Africa’s total wheat imports. For some African nations, they account for the majority, if not all, of their imported supplies.

Ukraine war ‘aggravating’ existing global food crisis, UN warns
‘Food is available,’ Luca Russo, the FAO’s lead analyst for food crises, tells Al Jazeera. The issue is soaring prices.
Luca Russo, the FAO’s lead analyst for food crises, told Al Jazeera that as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends energy prices higher, the cost of delivering aid has increased as well. The risk of a severe food crisis is particularly felt in the developing world, he warned.
Al Jazeera spoke with Russo this week about what worries him about the current international response, how millions could face famine while there is a global surplus of food stock, and why 2023 could be a “very, very dangerous year”.

30 May
Global Shortages Demand Global Solutions
Kaushik Basu
(Project Syndicate) Food shortages are beginning to cast a shadow over the world. One long-term factor is the warming of our planet, which has slowly destroyed agricultural land. But the proximate cause of greatest concern is the war in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Black Sea blockade, which is preventing Ukrainian grain and fertilizers from leaving the port of Odessa.

29 May
Marking 100 days of war in Ukraine
Adam Roberts, Digital editor
(The Economist today/Sunday edition) I’m not alone in having become a keen reader, in recent months, of various biographies of Vladimir Putin. One point I take from these, which all show how the man has ruthlessly, progressively, tightened his grip on power over 22 years, is that he knows how to play the long game. Perhaps that’s relevant for Ukraine as the war passes the 100-day mark this week. For despite the mostly rotten showing of Russia’s armed forces, so far, he may judge that as the war drags on his country’s advantages could grow.
One reason for that is food. As wheat exports from Ukraine are blocked by Russia, and as the price of energy soars, hunger will spread in countries all over the world this year. (emphasis added) Though Russia is to blame for this, some big importers—for example in Asia—may instead condemn America for daring to support Ukraine in its defence against the invader. Within Europe, too, some countries reliant on Russian energy, especially, could lose their resolve to defend Ukraine.

27 May
Ukraine’s grain stuck in silos as Russia continues to enforce naval blockade
(CBC Radio The World) Since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine Moscow’s navy has blockaded Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Its impact is having ripple effects all around the world.

25 May
Davos day 3: WTO’s Okonjo-Iweala: Ukraine’s harvest will be ‘very, very difficult’
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director general of the World Trade Organisation says the food crisis prompted by the war in Ukraine is a “real worry” which could persist into next year and perhaps longer.
“If countries can’t get fertiliser (of which Ukraine is a big supplier) then yields will be low”.
With Ukraine’s economy affected by the war she says next month’s harvest will be “very, very difficult.”
Okonjo-Iweala says countries should not make a bad situation worse by imposing export bans and put their surpluses on the international market. African countries should be supported to increase their own food production, she said.

24 May
The impact of Indonesia’s ban on palm oil exports reverberated across the globe
Steffi Hamann, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Development Studies, University of Guelph
(The Conversation) Over the past two years, labour restrictions, climate change and violent conflict have contributed to this latest [vegetable] oil crisis. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread rapidly across six continents, lockdowns resulted in work restrictions, affecting production sites and processing facilities in strategic locations such as Indonesia and Malaysia. These two countries are the top producers of palm oil, accounting for approximately 40 per cent of the vegetable oil market.
The other major commodities in this sector — soybean oil, canola oil and sunflower oil — fared even worse. A combination of heatwaves and droughts wiped out millions of tonnes in South America’s soybean harvest and decimated the canola harvest in Canada, which fell to a nine-year low.
In a catastrophic turn of events in Europe, the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused the price of sunflower oil to soar.

23 May
With food prices climbing, the U.N. is warning of crippling global shortages
Fears of a global food crisis are growing due to the shock of the war in Ukraine, climate change and rising inflation.
Last week, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned of “the specter of a global food shortage in the coming months” without urgent international action.
The U.N. estimates that in the past year, global food prices have risen by almost one third, fertilizer by more than half and oil prices by almost two thirds.
According to U.N. figures, the number of severely food-insecure people has doubled in the past two years, from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today. Now, more than half a million people are experiencing famine conditions, according to the U.N., an increase of more than 500% since 2016.

19 May
The coming food catastrophe
War is tipping a fragile world towards mass hunger. Fixing that is everyone’s business
(The Economist) By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin will destroy the lives of people far from the battlefield—and on a scale even he may regret. The war is battering a global food system weakened by covid-19, climate change and an energy shock. Ukraine’s exports of grain and oilseeds have mostly stopped and Russia’s are threatened. Together, the two countries supply 12% of traded calories. Wheat prices, up 53% since the start of the year, jumped a further 6% on May 16th, after India said it would suspend exports because of an alarming heatwave.
The widely accepted idea of a cost-of-living crisis does not begin to capture the gravity of what may lie ahead. António Guterres, the UN secretary general, warned on May 18th that the coming months threaten “the spectre of a global food shortage” that could last for years. The high cost of staple foods has already raised the number of people who cannot be sure of getting enough to eat by 440m, to 1.6bn. Nearly 250m are on the brink of famine. If, as is likely, the war drags on and supplies from Russia and Ukraine are limited, hundreds of millions more people could fall into poverty. Political unrest will spread, children will be stunted and people will starve.

18 May
Drought and soaring food prices from Ukraine war leave millions in Africa starving
(NPR) More than 23 million people are experiencing extreme hunger in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, according to a new report by Oxfam and Save the Children. That’s up from over 10 million last year.
The region’s worst drought in 40 years is being exacerbated by conflict and the pandemic. And the war in Ukraine has sent food prices soaring to record levels. … Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine disrupted shipments from the countries, which the report notes supply 90% of the wheat in East Africa. That sent prices for the staple up 20%. Prices for cooking oil, much of which also comes from Ukraine and Russia, also doubled.

4 May
Global Report on Food Crises 2022
(Relief Web) Globally, levels of hunger remain alarmingly high. In 2021, they surpassed all previous records as reported by the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries/territories, according to the findings of the GRFC 2022. This represents an increase of nearly 40 million people compared to the previous high reached in 2020 (reported in the GRFC 2021).
This increase must be interpreted with care, given that it can be attributed to both a worsening acute food insecurity situation and a substantial (22 percent) expansion in the population analysed between 2020 and 2021. However, even when considering the share of the analysed population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent, the proportion of the population in these phases has increased since 2020.

Wet agriculture could protect peatlands and climate, but remains largely unexplored
Rafael Ziegler, Professor, Department of Managment, HEC Montréal; Magali Simard, Étudiante à la maîtrise en Management et développement durable, HEC Montréal; Rahma Eldeeb, MSc Environmental science and sustainability candidate, Université de Montréal
(The Conversation) Thawing permafrost peatlands, such as those in Northern Canada, are an important “tipping element” that could lead to a runaway greenhouse effect. Further south, in Canada, Europe and the tropics, peatlands are being drained for urban, suburban and infrastructure expansion, converted to dryland agriculture and mined for fuel and the horticulture industry.
Peatlands are water-logged areas that slowly decompose plants, locking carbon into the soils. Protecting intact peatlands — and rewetting those that have been drained — must occur if we are to limit global warming to well below 2 C.
As part of our research, we conducted the first international survey on “wet farming,” or paludiculture, to understand how peatlands can be protected while considering people like farmers who use them. We also organized a workshop in Montréal, for farmers and the public, on the role of peatlands in climate change and to discuss wet farming.
Paludiculture: A necessity-driven innovation
Our survey shows that paludiculture is a necessity-driven innovation. In places where peatlands cannot be fully protected for nature conservation, such as in densely populated areas in Europe, Indonesia and southern Canada, paludiculture allows farmers and others to use the land and keep the carbon in the soil.

20 April
How The War In Ukraine Is Deepening The World’s Hunger Crisis (audio)
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could mean less bread on the table for many countries in the Arab world where millions already struggling to survive
Ukraine and Russia combined export 30% of the world’s wheat, in addition to other food supplies. Now, because of the ongoing war, the price of food worldwide is skyrocketing and 38 countries are facing acute food insecurity, meaning they are just one step from famine.
NPR global health and development correspondent Nurith Aizenman reports on how the war is driving up prices.
David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme, talks about how food insecurity looks inside of Ukraine, and what is to come for the rest of the world.

12 April
‘Too many people, not enough food’ isn’t the cause of hunger and food insecurity
Gisele Yasmeen, Senior Fellow, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia

24 March
Tackling Hunger and Global Food Insecurity: Why we must leave nitrogen fertilizers behind
By Facundo Calvo
(IISD) The Russian invasion of Ukraine has profound implications not only for the security map of Europe, but also for global food security given the significant role both countries play in the world food supply. As policy-makers weigh how to respond to the war and the related humanitarian crisis, a crucial consideration is how they can prevent a burgeoning hunger crisis from spiraling out of control and what changes countries need to make in food production as a result.

23 March
The World Must Avoid Another Food Crisis
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, former managing director at the World Bank, finance minister of Nigeria
It is becoming clear that the Ukraine war’s economic and humanitarian repercussions – especially rising food prices – will be felt far beyond Europe. The international community must act now to prevent some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people from becoming collateral damage
(Project Syndicate) Even prior to the war, rising food and energy prices were straining household and government budgets in many smaller and poorer countries whose economies had also been among the slowest to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. New price spikes triggered by the conflict in Eastern Europe now threaten to cause poverty and food insecurity to rise. In these circumstances, the role of the WTO and trade in general, particularly for countries that are net food importers, is of paramount importance in preventing hunger. While Ukraine and Russia together account for a modest 2.2% of global goods trade, according to WTO estimates, this figure understates their significance in grain and energy markets, and as suppliers of fertilizer, minerals, and other inputs critical for a wide range of downstream production activities. In 2020, for example, the two countries supplied 24% of globally traded wheat, and 73% of sunflower oil.
… Over the past 30 years, Ukraine and Russia have become key sources of grain for countries including Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Egypt, Malawi, Namibia, and Tanzania. The World Food Programme, the UN agency that provides food aid to people affected by conflict and disasters in more than 80 countries, typically procures more than half of its wheat from Ukraine.
… Surging energy and food prices have begun to elicit familiar policy responses, with several governments restricting exports of grains and other key foodstuffs in an effort to maintain domestic supplies and limit price increases. The rising number of complaints to the WTO from exporters in several member countries and jurisdictions underscores the extent of the problem.

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