Food (in)security February 2023-

Written by  //  April 6, 2024  //  Agriculture & Food, Climate Change, Geopolitics  //  No comments

The Global Food Institute,
George Washington University

Black Sea Grain Initiative
UN Joint Coordination Centre

World Food Programme

An Optimist’s Guide to the Planet captures UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s search for people across the globe who are helping drive humanity toward a brighter, more sustainable future.

6 April
Farmers in India are hit hard by extreme weather. Some say expanding natural farming is the answer
India’s southern Andhra Pradesh state has become a positive example of the benefits of natural farming, a process of using organic matter as fertilizers and pesticides that makes crops more resilient to bad weather, and advocates say active government support is the primary driver for the state’s success.
The region is frequently hit by cyclones and extreme heat, and farmers say that so-called natural farming protects their crops because the soil can hold more water, and their more robust roots help the plants withstand strong windsExperts say these methods should be expanded across India’s vast agricultural lands as climate change and decreasing profits have led to multiple farmers’ protests this year. But fledgling government support across the country for these methods means most farmers still use chemical pesticides and fertilizers, making them more vulnerable when extreme weather hits. Many farmers are calling for greater federal and state investment to help farms switch to more climate change-proof practices.

2 April
Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa declares national disaster over drought
(BBC) Mr Mnangagwa said on Wednesday the country needs $2bn (£1.6bn) to tackle hunger caused by low rainfall which has wiped out about half of the maize crop.
The grain shortage has pushed up food prices and an estimated 2.7 million people will face hunger.
(The World) Zimbabwe declared a state of disaster Wednesday over a devastating drought that’s sweeping across much of southern Africa, with the country’s president saying the country needs $2 billion for humanitarian assistance. The declaration was widely expected following similar actions by neighboring Zambia and Malawi, where drought linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon has scorched crops, leaving millions of people in need of food assistance. “Due to the El Nino-induced drought … more than 80% of our country received below normal rainfall,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa said in a speech calling for international aid. The country’s top priority, he said, is “securing food for all Zimbabweans. No Zimbabwean must succumb to, or die from, hunger.”

World Central Kitchen, led by a humanitarian chef, has fed crisis zones for years
The aid group World Central Kitchen said Tuesday that it is pausing its efforts to feed Palestinians in Gaza after seven of its workers were killed by an Israeli strike.
(NPR) “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war,” [Erin Gore, the CEO of World Central Kitchen] said.
The U.S.-based organization, which was founded by celebrity chef José Andrés and his wife Patricia in 2010, delivers food to people on the front lines of natural and humanitarian disasters around the world.
WCK said last week that it had provided some 42 million meals to people in Gaza over 175 days, calling the situation there “the most dire we’ve ever seen or experienced in our 15 year history.”
“More and more people, particularly children, are dying of starvation,” Gore and Andrés said in a joint statement. “We’ve known for months that famine is imminent and the situation is getting worse.”
With food scarce and malnutrition rising, international experts have warned that some 30% of Gaza’s population is already facing “catastrophic” levels of hunger and that northern Gaza could officially see famine anytime between now and May.
World Central Kitchen isn’t the only organization working to get food into Gaza, where aid deliveries are severely limited by Israeli border restrictions, logistical challenges and ongoing fighting. But it has played a major role in the humanitarian response, including sending two shipments of hundreds of tons of food to Gaza by sea.

31 March
Easter egg prices soar as cocoa crops are hit by climate crisis and exploitation
Experts say the global shortage of the main ingredient of chocolate is linked to poor conditions for farmers supplying large companies

28 March
‘Famine is setting in’: UN court orders Israel to unblock Gaza food aid
Judges issue unanimous decision and say Palestinians are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance
The international court of justice has ordered Israel to allow unimpeded access of food aid into Gaza, where sections of the population are facing imminent starvation, in a significant legal rebuke to Israel’s claim it is not blocking aid deliveries.
A panel of judges at the UN’s top court, which is already considering a complaint from South Africa that Israel is committing genocide in the Palestinian territory, issued the ruling after an emergency measure in January obliging Israel to admit emergency aid.

21 March
Starvation is a weapon of war: Gazans are paying the price
(The Conversation) On Monday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war and provoking famine in Gaza.
Israel denies the allegations, which are some of the strongest words we have heard from a western power about the situation in Gaza since October. The EU statement comes on the heels of a UN-backed report that warns that more than one million people — half of Gaza’s population — face catastrophic starvation conditions.
Scholars of famine say this is the worst food deprivation they have observed in war time since the Second World War. And according to international law, intentional starvation of a population is a war crime.

15 March
As the rumble of tractor protests grows, the EU offers more environmental concessions to farmers
(AP) — The European Union’s executive arm on Friday proposed weakening even more climate and environmental measures in the bloc’s latest set of concessions to farmers apparently bent on continuing disruptive tractor protests until the June EU elections.
Angering environmentalists across the 27 EU member states, the Commission proposed to further loosen rules imposed on agriculture which it said, not so long ago, were instrumental to the bloc’s strategy to become climate neutral by 2050. That iconic challenge put the EU in the global vanguard of fighting climate change.
Thousands of Indian farmers protest in New Delhi demanding a law guaranteeing minimum crop prices
The protesters held placards demanding free electricity for farming. They contended that without minimum price guarantees for their crops, they would be at the mercy of the markets and that would spell disaster, especially for the more than two-thirds of them who own less than 1 hectare (2 1/2 acres) of land.

7 March
Czech farmers block traffic in Prague in protest against the government and EU agriculture policies
(AP) Tens of thousands of farmers and their supporters have rallied across Europe in recent weeks to voice their frustration over a range of issues, from insufficiently regulated cheap imports to overbearing environmental rules and red tape.

6 March
World’s largest hunger crisis looms in Sudan, UN warns, as humanitarian response hits ‘breaking point’
(CNN) The war in Sudan is “triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis,” with more than 25 million people “trapped in a spiral” of food insecurity, a United Nations agency has warned.
Nine in 10 people across the country face “emergency levels of hunger” and are “stuck” in areas “largely inaccessible” due to “relentless violence and interference by the warring parties,” the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said Wednesday.
The war, which has also created the world’s largest displacement crisis, according to the UN, has left 18 million people “acutely food insecure” in Sudan and millions more in neighboring South Sudan and Chad.
“Twenty years ago, Darfur was the world’s largest hunger crisis, and the world rallied to respond. But today, the people of Sudan have been forgotten. Millions of lives and the peace and stability of an entire region are at stake,” said Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the WFP.
Thousands of people have been killed and eight million displaced since fighting broke out in April between forces loyal to two rival generals – army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads Sudan’s Armed Forces (SAF), and the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

19-20 February
Stupid! Hurts all parties!
Polish farmers anger Ukraine with border blockade, grain spillage
Polish farmers block most border traffic
They are angry about cheap competition from Ukraine
Kyiv says protests risk damaging its war effort
Ukrainian hauliers start counter-demonstration at border
(Reuters) – Protests by Polish farmers sparked anger in neighbouring Ukraine on Tuesday, as Kyiv called on the European Commission to take robust action after demonstrators blockaded the border and opened railway carriages to let grain spill out.
Warsaw has been a staunch supporter of Kyiv in its fight to repel a full-scale Russian invasion launched in 2022, but protests from farmers complaining of unfair competition have strained ties that were already on edge after truckers blocked border crossings around the turn of the year.

A UN agency says it can’t deliver aid to northern Gaza because of chaos, and famine fears are rising
(AP) — The World Food Program said Tuesday it has paused deliveries of food to isolated northern Gaza because of increasing chaos across the territory, hiking fears of potential starvation. A study by the U.N. children’s agency warned that one in six children in the north are acutely malnourished.
Entry of aid trucks into the besieged territory has sharply declined by more than half the past two weeks, according to U.N. figures. Overwhelmed U.N. and relief workers said intake of trucks and distribution have been crippled by Israeli failure to ensure convoys’ safety amid its bombardment and ground offensive and by a breakdown in security, with hungry Palestinians frequently overwhelming trucks to take food.

Climate change, extreme weather & conflict exacerbate global food crisis
Global food insecurity has risen substantially since pre-pandemic times, exacerbated by extreme weather, climate change, war and conflict.
“If we do not redouble and better target our efforts, our goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 will remain out of reach,” write the authors of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2023 report on global food security and nutrition.
(Mongabay) In the past year, international agencies worldwide have continued to sound an alarm over surges in food insecurity that are plunging millions of people into extreme hunger, malnutrition and threats to their overall health. The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) calls it “a hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions.”
… Since the Russia-Ukraine crisis began in February 2022, many countries that had relied substantially on Ukrainian grains for years have since borne the brunt of food price inflation due to significant supply shortfalls. Russia is a major exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is a significant producer of corn; prices for both crops spiked with the Russian invasion, and the destruction of ports sent further shocks throughout global markets. The war prompted other countries producing large amounts of staple foods to either restrict or ban their exports to satisfy domestic demands.
Compounding all of this, extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts and floods, are also negatively affecting food production globally
Potassium Depletion: The Invisible Threat to Global Food Security
Research reveals a global threat to food security from potassium deficiency in soils, highlighting the imbalance between potassium removal and replenishment, the critical role of potassium in crop yields, and the need for sustainable management and policy coordination.
(SciTechDaily) Potassium deficiency in agricultural soils is a largely unrecognized but potentially significant threat to global food security if left unaddressed, finds new research involving researchers at UCL, University of Edinburgh, and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
The study, published today (February 19) in Nature Food, found that more potassium is being removed from agricultural soils than is being added, throughout many regions of the world. It also gives a series of recommendations for how to mitigate the issue.
Reference: “Global Food Security Threatened by Potassium Neglect” by Will J. Brownlie, Peter Alexander, Mark Maslin, Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles, Mark A. Sutton and Bryan M. Spears, 19 February 2024, Nature Food

Indian farmers reject support price contract offered by government
(Reuters) – Indian farmers’ unions have rejected five-year contracts for minimum support prices (MSPs) proposed by the Indian government, one of their leaders said in a video posted on social media platform X on Monday.
The Indian government has offered guaranteed support prices for pulses, corn and cotton in a bid to break a deadlock with protesting farmers, Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said on Sunday after week-long clashes between security forces and protesters.
EU farmers are protesting climate change regulations. Could Canadians join them?
European farmers have protested higher costs, lower profits and climate change regulations for weeks. Could Canadian producers also launch blockades? Global’s Nathaniel Dove explores the issue.

16 February
Houthi attacks in Red Sea having a ‘catastrophic’ effect on aid to Sudan
Shipments of food and medical supplies from Asia are having to take longer, more expensive routes to avoid seaborne assaults
(The Guardian) Attacks by Houthi forces against ships in the Red Sea are holding up shipments of vital aid to Sudan and driving up costs for cash-strapped humanitarian agencies in the east African country, where conflict has put millions at risk of famine.
The attacks mean ships carrying aid from Asia to Port Sudan must now circumnavigate Africa, traverse the Mediterranean and then enter the Red Sea via the Suez Canal from the north, resulting in huge delays and increased costs.
“It’s making our operations very expensive,” said Eatizaz Yousif, Sudan country director for the International Rescue Committee. “Shipments that took one or two weeks, maximum, now take months to reach us.”

Farmers are in revolt and Europe’s climate policies are crumbling. Welcome to the age of ‘greenlash’
Paul Taylor
Brussels is ditching green measures as EU leaders panic over rural protests, upcoming elections and the threat of the far right
(The Guardian) Ursula von der Leyen surrendered to angry farmers last week faster than you could shake a pitchfork or dump a tractor-load of manure outside the European parliament. The European Commission president, expected to announce her candidacy for a second term heading the EU executive next week, told lawmakers that the commission was withdrawing a bill to halve the use of chemical pesticides by 2030 and would hold more consultations instead.
“The (pesticides) proposal has become a symbol of polarisation,” von der Leyen admitted to parliament in Strasbourg. “To move forward, more dialogue and a different approach is needed.” She may have been slamming the stable gate after the horse has bolted.
Farmers have traditionally voted for mainstream conservative and Christian Democratic parties, while the socialists and social democrats had their bastions in industrial urban areas. … Nowadays, those voters are more likely to vote for Le Pen’s National Rally, recent polls suggest.

15 February
Hard work and too many statistics: An EU farmer’s frustration grows with every click of the mouse
From Greece to Ireland, from the Baltics to Spain, tens of thousands of farmers and their supporters joined protests across Europe in recent weeks. It was enough to put the farmers’ plight on front pages all over the continent, setting it up as a key theme for the June 6-9 parliamentary elections in the 27-nation European Union.

1 February
Farmageddon: EU leaders dodge angry farmers’ eggs
As EU leaders gathered in Brussels for a summit on Thursday, farmers across Europe worked hard to get their attention – throwing eggs and starting fires around the European Parliament, and using tractors to bring capitals and roadways across Europe to a standstill. Leaders are scrambling to address farmers’ concerns so that they don’t end up with egg on their faces in June’s European Parliament elections.
Their complaints: EU climate change regulations are costing farmers time and money, while climate change-fueled disasters devastate crops.
Russia’s invasion led to skyrocketing fertilizer and energy prices, and now, with Ukrainian grain flooding their markets, farmers who were already feeling disadvantaged by cheap imports are voicing their exasperation.
What they want: Local grievances may vary, but on the whole: less red-tape and environmental restrictions, more subsidies (for small farmers, in particular), and less foreign competition.
Farmers want to reduce foreign imports by limiting free trade agreements, especially one with the Mercosur states – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
As EU leaders gathered in Brussels for a summit on Thursday, farmers across Europe worked hard to get their attention – throwing eggs and starting fires around the European Parliament, and using tractors to bring capitals and roadways across Europe to a standstill. Leaders are scrambling to address farmers’ concerns so that they don’t end up with egg on their faces in June’s European Parliament elections.

29 January
Paris siege: French farmers encircle capital with an angry blockade
Farmers are emerging as the protest movement of the moment. In multiple countries across Europe, they have been driving their combines and harvesters into the streets to oppose cuts to subsidies and new regulations, some of them designed to reduce climate-changing emissions.
(WaPo) It looked like a military campaign. The farmers called it “Operation Paris Siege,” while the French interior minister ordered an “important defensive system” to protect the capital and its airports.
On Monday, angry agriculturalists and their allies deployed their tractors in an attempt to surround Paris, choking major roadways and disrupting not only traffic and trade, but also politics and normal life.


12 December
A New UN ‘Roadmap’ Lays Out a Global Vision for Food Security and Emissions Reductions
Critics applaud food-related ambitions at COP28, but say they don’t address livestock emissions and rely too much on bioenergy.
(Inside Climate news) As the United Nations’ annual climate summit wraps up in Dubai this week, farm and food groups are applauding the conference leadership for its intensified focus on agriculture, a major source of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions that has been overlooked in previous years.
But critics have pointed to what they see as glaring flaws in the food and farming-related agreements that emerged from the nearly two-week event, saying they don’t go far enough or adequately address the livestock industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The food industry’s heavy presence at the conference, known as COP28, didn’t sit well, either.
One significant omission, some critics say, was an absence of discussion on the financial forces driving the global agriculture system—specifically the banks continuing to fund agriculture that results in deforestation, and the nearly $850 billion in government subsidies that support greenhouse gas-intensive agriculture.
Nearly 50 million facing hunger in West, Central Africa as conflict spreads
(Reuters) – A record 49.5 million people are expected to go hungry in West and Central Africa next year due to a combination of conflict, climate change and high food prices, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The figure is 4% higher than in 2023. In coastal countries, the number of people facing acute hunger is expected to reach 6.2 million in 2024, up 16% from this year, according to a new regional food security analysis released by the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and other humanitarian agencies.

1 December
At COP28, the Role of Food Systems in the Climate Crisis Will Get More Attention Than Ever
As food and agriculture take center stage, industry groups plan a full-on campaign to downplay the carbon impacts of meat and dairy.
(Inside Climate news) By the end of the United Nations annual climate conference, going on now in Dubai, the term “food system transformation” will be very well worn.
An unprecedented focus on food and agriculture at the conference, known as COP28, comes four months after its Emirati leaders announced a “Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda” for the nearly two-week event, and urged governments to sign onto a first-ever agreement to tackle emissions from their food and agriculture industries.
The conference will host a dizzying 50-plus events on food, agriculture and related issues, and will feature an entire day dedicated to food, on Dec. 10, during which the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is scheduled to launch a “roadmap” for countries to meet their climate targets through “agrifood solutions.”

30 November
Putin has been accused of starving civilians as a warfare tactic. Will the ICC agree?
By Alana Mitias and Celeste Kmiotek
(Atlantic Council) On November 16, international human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance (GRC) released a report alleging that, months prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces engaged in a “highly coordinated level of pre-planning” to weaponize Ukrainian grain. The new evidence suggests that these preparations—including the procurement of trucks and cargo ships to carry extracted grain—are part of a “broader, systematic strategy” to seize Ukrainian grain and transport it to Russia. GRC announced that it will be submitting its evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be prosecuted for the war crime of starvation.
GRC’s findings came shortly before Holodomor Remembrance Day. Between four and seven million people died during the 1932-1933 Holodomor, which translates to “death inflicted by starvation.” This was a man-made famine, resulting from policies implemented by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin’s Soviet government to seize control of Ukrainian farmers’ agricultural resources.
Following the onset of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russia was accused of weaponizing starvation against Ukrainians using various methods, including through its destruction of grain warehouses and during its siege of Mariupol. However, more recent allegations additionally warn that the impact of Putin’s starvation tactics could extend further.
16 November
New report reveals large-scale, organised Russian plan to systematically pillage Ukraine’s grain, using proceeds to fund occupation and illegal war

27 November
Ukraine has a new way to get its grain to the world despite Russia’s threat in the Black Sea
Grain thunders into rail cars and trucks zip around a storage facility in central Ukraine, a place that growing numbers of companies turned to as they struggled to export their food to people facing hunger around the world. Now, more of the grain is getting unloaded from overcrammed silos and heading to ports on the Black Sea
(AP) Increasing numbers of ships are streaming toward Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and heading out loaded with grain, metals and other cargo despite the threat of attack and explosive mines. It’s happening under a fledgling shipping corridor launched after Russia pulled out of a U.N.-brokered agreement this summer.
It’s giving a boost to Ukraine’s agriculture-dependent economy and bringing back a key source of wheat, corn, barley, sunflower oil and other affordable food products for parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where local prices have risen and food insecurity is growing.

17 November
Russia says first free grain shipments to Africa are on their way
(Reuters) – Russia’s agriculture minister said on Friday that Moscow had begun free shipments of grain totalling up to 200,000 tonnes to six African countries, as promised by President Vladimir Putin in July.
In a statement posted on Telegram, Dmitry Patrushev said that ships headed for Burkina Faso and Somalia had already left Russian ports, and that additional shipments to Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Mali and the Central African Republic would soon follow.

16 November
Gaza faces widespread hunger as food systems collapse, warns WFP
(WFP) — With only ten percent of necessary food supplies entering Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, the Strip now faces a massive food gap and widespread hunger as nearly the entire population is in desperate need of food assistance, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

31 October
Hunger report sounds alarm on emergencies at risk of going forgotten amid crisis in Palestine
WFP-FAO report highlights 22 countries or territories needing urgent attention as funding shortfall hampers support
The latest Hunger Hotspots report provides a telling reminder of critical humanitarian emergencies that risk falling under the radar while the world’s attention is on the conflict in Israel and Palestine.
In addition to Palestine – now added to the countries of highest concern – other countries highlighted at greatest risk of a serious deterioration in food security and possible starvation are Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan and the Sudan.
In total, urgent humanitarian action is essential in 18 hunger hotspots – comprising 22 countries or territories – according to the report jointly issued by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

22 September
First big grain ship leaves Ukraine’s Black Sea port
(Reuters) – The first big ship carrying grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port has set sail since Moscow quit a deal in July to allow exports, a Ukrainian deputy prime minister said on Friday, part of Kyiv’s campaign to break Russia’s de facto blockade.
The Aroyat “left the port Chornomorsk after loading 17,600 (metric tons of) Ukrainian wheat for Egypt,” Oleksandr Kubrakov said on the X social media app, formerly Twitter.
It was the second of two bulk carriers to leave the port this week using what Kyiv calls a new temporary humanitarian corridor. The first, the much smaller Resilient Africa, left on Tuesday, testing the route with a cargo of just 3,000 tons.

11 September
Why the Global Food Crisis Needs an Emergency Meeting at UNGA78
None is scheduled thus far
By Wangari Kuria and Alice Macdonald
(Global Dispatches) As September summitry intensifies and we barrel towards UNGA, there’s a critical global issue that’s not receiving the concerted attention it deserves: the global food crisis.
With 735 million people going hungry, a quarter of a billion people facing severe hunger and 3 billion people unable to afford a healthy diet, it should top the agenda of every world leader. But as of now, there is no major High Level Meeting scheduled specifically on the global food crisis during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly next week.
This needs to change. As the only moment when all the world’s heads of state are meant to come together, UNGA is an unprecedented opportunity to make global progress on this multi-dimensional crisis.
… [T]he Hungry for Action campaign recently called on world leaders to hold an emergency meeting on the global food crisis at UNGA. An unusual coalition of chefs, farmers, activists, celebrities, musicians and civil society leaders joined forces to make this call in an open letter.
This year’s agenda includes *three* High-level Meetings on global health – on pandemic preparedness, universal health coverage, and tuberculosis. So why not add one on the food crisis when 1 in 11 people are going to bed hungry every night?
This would catapult the issue to the prominence it deserves. It would bring heads of state together to discuss the solutions and commit to coordinated action.

3-4 September
Putin says he won’t renew the grain deal until the West meets his demands. The West says it has
(AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that a landmark deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely through the Black Sea amid the war won’t be restored until the West meets Moscow’s demands on its own agricultural exports.
Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed the Kremlin’s demands as a ploy to advance its own interests.
Still, Putin’s remarks dashed hopes that his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could revive an agreement seen as vital for global food supplies, especially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Erdogan visits Putin in Russia’s Sochi in bid to revive Ukraine grain deal
(Al Jazeera) Putin says the deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain will not be restored until the West lifts embargo on Russia.
Since pulling out of the deal, Russia has been keen to ally(sic) [allay] African concerns about the impact of the deal’s collapse on food security.
On Monday, he said Russia was close to a deal with six African countries over a plan to supply Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic and Eritrea with up to 50,000 tonnes of grain.
Turkey’s Erdogan says Black Sea grain deal can be restored soon
Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi
Putin: West must stop blocking Russian exports
Erdogan: Seeking compromise to bring Russia back
UN seeks to bring Russia back in to deal
(Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said after talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday that it would soon be possible to revive the grain deal that the United Nations says helped to ease a food crisis by getting Ukrainian grain to market.
(Bloomberg) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will seek to persuade Putin today to revive a United Nations-backed Black Sea grain deal, but a barrage of Russian drone strikes on Ukrainian port facilities set a somber tone just before their meeting in the Russian resort town of Sochi.

16 August
As Russia Threatens Ships in the Black Sea, a Romanian Route Provides a Lifeline
A 40-mile channel, best known outside shipping circles as a magnet for bird watchers, is now a crucial route allowing Ukrainian grain to reach the sea, protected by a NATO umbrella.

8-9 August
Putin, Erdogan to discuss stalled Ukraine grain deal amid rising food prices
The halt of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, previously brokered by the UN and Turkey, has caused global food prices to surge after months of stability.
Erdogan: Revival of Russia-Ukraine grain deal hinges on West
(al-Monitor) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Russia’s return to the critical deal was dependent on Western countries’ fulfilling their responsibilities.
In televised remarks in Ankara, Erdogan said his country’s contacts with relevant parties to revive the deal from which Russia withdrew on July 17 would continue. “Undoubtedly, settlement of this standoff without further complication depends on the Western countries’ fulfillment of their promises. Over the past, unfortunately, the ‘agreements must be kept’ principle has not been abided by,” he said. “No diplomatic steps have been taken to translate the positive atmosphere that emerged by the Black Sea initiative into first a cease-fire and then to permanent peace.”

1-2 August
Turkish president urges Vladimir Putin to reopen Ukraine grain talks
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seeks to revive deal he brokered last summer after Russia strikes Odesa ports
(The Guardian) Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has urged Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to reopen talks on the failed deal he brokered last summer to safeguard Ukrainian grain exports to the world after Russia’s latest night strikes destroyed ports and supplies in the Odesa region.
Russia’s new tactic for cutting off Ukraine’s grain
(BBC) Following the Kremlin’s refusal to renew the deal which allowed ships to transport grain across the Black Sea, Russia has started targeting Ukraine’s key alternative export routes along the Danube River.
We’ve looked at what grain infrastructure has been targeted and what this latest escalation means for global trade.
Since it started in August 2022, almost 33 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported via the Black Sea grain deal.
But with Ukraine’s Black Sea ports now effectively blockaded by Russia, experts say it will have to rely heavily on its ports along the Danube river to export grain into neighbouring Romania.
From there it can be transported further afield as Romania’s ports remain open.
After repeatedly targeting export hubs on the Black Sea, Russia has now turned its missiles and drones on ports on the Danube.
Russian drones have hit Ukraine’s grain port of Izmail across the Danube River from Romania, damaging at least two silos with over 40,000 tons of grain expected to be exported to African countries, China and Israel, according to officials. This is the last of a series of attacks by Russia since scrapping the Black Sea deal, which allowed Ukraine to export grain out of the port of Odesa via the Black Sea and though the Bosphorous Straight in Turkey.
Why India’s rice ban could trigger a global food crisis
What happens when India bans exports of a food staple that is essential to the diets of billions around the world?
(BBC) On 20 July, India banned exports of non-basmati white rice in an attempt to calm rising domestic prices at home. This was followed by reports and videos of panic buying and empty rice shelves at Indian grocery stores in the US and Canada, driving up prices in the process.
There are thousands of varieties of rice that are grown and consumed, but four main groups are traded globally. The slender long grain Indica rice comprises the bulk of the global trade, while the rest is made up of fragrant or aromatic rice like basmati; the short-grained Japonica, used for sushi and risottos; and glutinous or sticky rice, used for sweets.
India is the world’s top rice exporter, accounting for some 40% of the global trade in the cereal. … Not surprisingly, July’s export ban has sparked worries about runaway global rice prices. IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas reckons the ban would drive up prices and that global grain prices could rise up to 15% this year.
Cindy McCain: End of Ukraine grain deal ‘hurting the most needy people in the world’
(PBS Newshour) South Sudan may look very lush right now, but flooding there has disrupted life and caused hunger on an “enormous” scale, says Cindy McCain, executive director of the World Food Programme. McCain, on the ground in Juba, South Sudan, talks with Amna Nawaz about the need for greater food aid around the world, and how the end of the Ukraine grain deal is hurting those most in need.
The world has never been wealthier or more advanced technologically, yet hunger still stalks tens of millions globally; 122 million more people now face hunger than in 2019. And now nearly 20 percent of the 1.4 billion people across Africa face hunger.

25-27 July
‘Trying to make the world starve’: Russian drones destroy grain warehouses at Ukraine ports
(The Guardian) Moscow accused of food terrorism after attacks at Danube River export hubs Reni and Izmail
Putin promises free grain to six African nations after collapse of Black Sea deal
President says Russia will replace blocked Ukrainian exports after it abandoned pact on passage of ships

Ian Bremmer: What will be the impact of the suspension of the Black Sea grain deal?
A lot of new antagonism toward Russia from the Global South, in particular sub-Saharan countries like Kenya (which accused Moscow of “stabbing it in the back”), because global food and fertilizer prices are going to go up and, this time around, Russia will find it harder to deflect responsibility for it. Initially, it seemed possible that some grain ships would still be able to get out of the region (with Turkish escorts and/or NATO/UN guarantees), but recent Russian strikes on Ukrainian port infrastructure and grain storage as well as stepped-up threats against commercial shipping signal that the supply disruption will be extensive. On the other hand, in the past year Ukraine has meaningfully reduced its dependence on Black Sea routes for its agricultural exports, half of which now reach global markets either overland or by river through Europe (compared to just 10% before the invasion). That, combined with a record wheat crop from Russia and export increases by major producers elsewhere in the world, should keep the impact on global food prices from reaching extreme levels.

African leaders seek grain commitments at Russia summit with Putin
(Reuters) – African leaders will look to Russian President Vladimir Putin for concrete promises on grain supplies at a summit starting on Thursday
Putin strikes Ukrainian ports — and endangers the world’s food supply
(WaPo editorial board) Since he withdrew on July 17 from a year-old agreement that allowed Ukraine to continue exporting its wheat and corn through the Black Sea, which his navy patrols, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has compounded the harm not only to his neighbor but also to millions of people across the world who rely on it for grain.
In fact, within hours, Russia unleashed drone and missile attacks on Ukraine’s export infrastructure, including silos containing hundreds of tons of grain and vital port structures. Those attacks, renewed daily, were expanded Monday to hit a Ukrainian port on the Danube River that provided Kyiv an alternative outlet for grain exports via Europe. The effect of these Russian attacks is to make it harder for Ukraine to resume shipments if and when current or future diplomatic efforts to revive the agreement from which Moscow withdrew succeed. World grain prices rose 17 percent in eight days after Russia pulled out.
Ukraine is a major grain producer, accounting for one-tenth of the world’s wheat supply, 13 percent of its barley, 15 percent of its corn and half of its sunflower oil. Thus, Moscow’s latest actions raise the prospect of future global food insecurity even if bumper crops this year in other countries, including Brazil, might postpone acute shortages.
Russia is cynically trying to blame the West for weaponizing food supplies, but Moscow’s own guilt is evident in the explosions and fires that have devastated Ukrainian grain stores and facilities, the product of Russian drone and missile strikes. That stark fact should not be lost on African leaders headed for Moscow later this week for a two-day summit with Mr. Putin.

20 July
What was the Black Sea grain deal and why did it collapse?
What will happen now that Russia has pulled out of deal that allowed Ukrainian grain to reach world markets?

16-19 July
Russia Killed the Black Sea Grain Deal. These Countries Could Suffer Most.
Moscow’s exit from the deal generated alarm in a number of populous lower-income countries dependent on Ukrainian grain.
By Kali Robinson
(CFR) The agreement’s collapse could have disastrous consequences for the nations most dependent on Ukrainian grain at a time when climate change, conflict, and other factors have already caused rising levels of food insecurity.
Ukraine produces about 10 percent of the world’s wheat and 15 percent of its corn, counting multiple countries in Africa and the Middle East among its top buyers. Many destinations for Ukrainian grain are lower-income nations already grappling with food insecurity. Some, such as Lebanon and Pakistan, are also suffering political and economic crises. And others, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, have huge populations to feed.
Odesa suffers ‘hellish night’ as Russia attacks Ukraine grain facilities
Port bears brunt of missile and drone onslaught, with grain and oil terminal, market and storage said to have been hit
18 July
Russia strikes Ukraine grain port after exiting export deal
(Reuters) At the United Nations on Tuesday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said there were a “number of ideas being floated” to help get Ukrainian and Russian grain and fertilizer to global markets. Moscow’s decision raised concern primarily in Africa and Asia of rising food prices and hunger.
Russia said it hit fuel storage in Odesa and a plant making seaborne drones there, as part of “mass revenge strikes” for attacks by Ukraine that knocked out its road bridge to the occupied Crimean Peninsula.
In The limits of Russia’s grain weapon, Ian Bremmer points out that “On Monday, the Kremlin said the deal was suspended, not canceled, which would allow Russia to return to the agreement – as it did last November after a previous halt”, adding ” Moscow’s concern for its image in developing countries leaves it no more likely to attack ships carrying grain to foreign ports than during last fall’s pause in the agreement.”
Russia says decision not to extend Black Sea grain deal is final
No more talks planned, says official, despite Turkish leader expressing hope of progress at UN meeting
(The Guardian) All sides accept that if the suspension lasts more than a few days, it may be impossible to revive the deal, meaning grain prices will rise. …
The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, condemned Russia’s decision. He said: “Russia has obstructed the proper operation of the deal for several months. In doing so, Russia is serving its own interests and disregarding the needs of all those around the world, including in the poorest countries, who are paying higher food prices as a result.
“The UN estimates that without the grain provided by the [deal], the number of undernourished people worldwide could increase by millions. We have always been clear that the target of our sanctions is Russia’s war machine and not the food and fertiliser sectors.”
Ukrainian grain deal will cease Tuesday, Russia says
(WaPo) In a lengthy statement, [the Russian foreign ministry] laid out its grievances over what it called a “disappointing” lack of implementation of Moscow’s conditions for the deal, including lifting sanctions from its agricultural bank and resuming exports of Russian grain and fertilizer.
“The Russian side objects to [the deal’s] further extension,” the statement said. Moscow is therefore withdrawing security guarantees for vessels passing through the northwestern parts of Black Sea, putting an end to the humanitarian corridor that allowed shipments of Ukrainian produce from previously blocked ports.
Black Sea Grain Deal Hangs on 11th-Hour Talks, Again
(NYT) In a bid to answer one of Russia’s key demands before this latest deadline, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, sent a letter to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia last week with proposals that would “remove hurdles affecting financial transactions” through Russia’s agricultural bank “and simultaneously allow for the continued flow of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea,” according to a U.N. statement.

UN unable to feed 100,000 Haitians this month amid ‘catastrophic’ conditions
The World Food Programme’s Haiti response is only 16% funded with more than half of the country’s population regularly hungry
The World Food Programme (WFP) will be unable to feed 100,000 Haitians this month as the UN agency has insufficient funding to meet burgeoning humanitarian needs in the embattled Caribbean nation.
Haitians grappling with dire malnutrition will have to endure the absence of vital food and financial support amid the worst hunger crisis the country has ever witnessed, the WFP announced on Monday.

22 May
Why global hunger is a national security threat
By José Andrés, a chef and founder of the new Global Food Institute at George Washington University
As severe drought devastates crops across South America, the World Food Program recently warned that “the whole continent is on the move.” We cannot build a wall high enough to stop the army of mothers with hungry children in their arms.
(WaPo) U.S. security agencies predicted a world, right around now, when water shortages and floods would “risk instability and state failure, increase regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States on important US policy objectives.”
They forecast that in countries of strategic importance to us, “declining food security will almost certainly contribute to social disruptions and political instability.”
The time has come for us all to prioritize food in our public policy — at home and internationally.
Consider one of the most divisive factors in politics today, both in the United States and in Europe: immigration from the Global South.
Violence, corruption and lack of opportunity are nothing new in the Western Hemisphere. Though they are clearly factors in the surge to the U.S. southern border, there is something new about what is moving so many people today.
To be precise: malnutrition, hunger and food price inflation.

20 May
Hiroshima Action Statement for Resilient Global Food Security
We, the leaders of Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Comoros, the Cook Islands, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Viet Nam and the European Union, reaffirmed that access to affordable, safe and nutritious food is a basic human need, and shared the importance of working closely together to respond to the worsening global food security crisis with the world facing highest risk of famine in a generation and to build more resilient, sustainable and inclusive agriculture and food systems, including through enhancing stability and predictability in international markets. … we intend to jointly take the following actions in cooperation with the international community to strengthen global food security and nutrition and call on other partners to join us in these efforts.
1. Responding to the immediate food security crisis
Global food security is threatened by multiple factors and risks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, volatile energy, food and fertilizer prices, the serious impact of climate change and armed conflicts, with disproportionate impacts on the most vulnerable, including women, children and persons with disabilities. The war in Ukraine has further aggravated the ongoing food security crisis around the world, especially in developing and least developed countries. … We call on all participants of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) to continue and fully implement its smooth operation at its maximum potential and for as long as necessary, and stress the importance of allowing grains to continue to reach those most in need. According to UN and relevant reports, up to 828 million people were facing hunger across the world in 2021 and 258 million people in 58 food crisis countries, especially in developing and least developed countries, were estimated to need emergency food assistance in 2022. We will be working together to respond to the immediate food security crisis…
2. Preparing for and preventing future food security crises …
3. Realizing resilient global food security and nutrition for all …
To advance food security and nutrition for all
To build resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems
Promoting innovation and technology and introducing them at every stage in food systems

17 May
Russia agrees to renew Ukraine Black Sea grain deal for 60 days
About 30.3 million tonnes of grain have been exported from Ukraine under the Black Sea deal to countries suffering from insecurity
(Al Jazeera) Russia has agreed to extend a deal that has allowed Ukraine to ship grain through the Black Sea to parts of the world struggling with hunger, a boost to global food security after the more-than-year-old war drove up prices.
“I want to give good news,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday in a televised speech. “With the efforts of our country, the support of our Russian friends and the contribution of our Ukrainian friends, the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been extended by another two months.”

15 May
Climate change, food insecurity, and migration in the Middle East
(Brookings) The Middle East is currently warming at nearly double the rate of the rest of the world, presenting current and future challenges for livability and domestic agricultural systems. At the same time, high inflation, fluctuating energy prices, and the geopolitical effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine continue to drive up food insecurity levels across the Middle East. In a region with already high migration and displacement due to conflict and a lack of economic opportunities, these trends will likely continue to be exacerbated by the interlinked challenges of climate change and food insecurity.
On May 15, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted an event on how pressing issues of food insecurity and climate change will affect both internal urbanization and external migration in the Middle East, and opportunities for international and U.S. action. Ferid Belhaj, the World Bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, provided a keynote address.

13 May
Sustainable food – not more of it – needed as global hunger soars
(Jakarta Post) As global hunger swiftly rises – by more than a third last year – curbing it will require not growing more food but rethinking broader systems of trade and aid, farming’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels, food waste and meat eating, experts said. Farmers today grow sufficient crops to feed twice the current population – but but nearly a third of food produced globally is spoiled or thrown away, said Philip Lymbery, the chief executive of Compassion in World Farming International. At the same time, grain that could feed billions of people is instead fed to factory-raised food animals – suggesting a reduction in meat consumption is one clear way to cut hunger, he said at a conference on global food systems in London this week.

18 April
Hunger is soaring and spreading across West Africa, says UN
(AP) — Hunger is soaring and spreading across West Africa, with some 48 million people, a 10-year-high, facing food insecurity in the conflict-riddled region, the United Nations warned Tuesday.
Driven primarily by violence as well as the economic fallout from COVID-19 and inflation, food insecurity has heavily impacted Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, northern Nigeria and Mauritania, U.N. officials said at a press conference in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
U.N. officials said that for the first time, some 45,000 people in the Sahel region, the arid expanse below the Sahara Desert, are on the brink of starvation, one step away from famine. The vast majority facing catastrophic levels of hunger, 42,000, are in Burkina Faso, the officials reported.

17 April
What are the deals on Ukraine, Russia grain exports?
(Reuters) – The extension of a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain and fertilizers beyond May 18 hangs in the balance after Russia issued a list of demands linked to a related agreement on its own such exports.
Here are details on the deals brokered by the United Nations and Turkey and signed in Istanbul in July last year, along with Russia’s demands and U.N. efforts to appease Moscow.

12 April
China must act against rising global hunger, new WFP boss McCain says
Cindy McCain calls on all countries to increase food aid spending as crisis intensifies
China and other powerful countries need to step up to help steer the world away from a potentially “catastrophic” hunger crisis this year, the new head of the United Nations’ World Food Programme said.
Cindy McCain, an American diplomat and the widow of the late U.S. Senator John McCain, also told POLITICO that the EU and U.S. should see world hunger as a national security issue due to its impact on migration. She furthermore accused Russia of using hunger as a “weapon of war” by hindering exports of Ukrainian grain.
McCain, formerly the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. food agencies, took the helm of the WFP on April 5 and begins her five-year term at a time of increasing world hunger.

18 March
Ukraine Black Sea grain deal extended for at least 60 days
By Huseyin Hayatsever and Michelle Nichols
(Reuters) – A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain was renewed on Saturday for at least 60 days – half the intended period – after Russia warned any further extension beyond mid-May would depend on the removal of some Western sanctions.
The pact was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July and renewed for a further 120 days in November. The aim was to combat a global food crisis that was fueled in part by Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine and Black Sea blockade.
The United Nations and Turkey said on Saturday that the deal had been extended, but did not specify for how long. Ukraine said it had been extended for 120 days. But Russia’s cooperation is needed and Moscow only agreed to renew the pact for 60 days.

16 March
What is the Ukraine grain deal and what good has it done?
(BBC) Russia is asking Western nations to soften their sanctions in exchange for renewing a deal to let Ukraine export its grain.
The deal has enabled Ukraine to transport millions of tonnes of food through the Black Sea despite the ongoing conflict.
Why was the grain deal needed?
Ukraine is a major global exporter of sunflower, maize, wheat and barley.
When Russia invaded in February 2022, its naval vessels blockaded Ukraine’s ports, trapping some 20 million tonnes of grain.
Chart showing how much food Ukraine exports to the rest of the world, by percentage share of export market for crops (March 2023)

10 March
Horn of Africa hunger emergency: ‘129,000 looking death in the eyes’
Life-threatening hunger caused by climate shocks, violent insecurity and disease in the Horn of Africa, have left nearly 130,000 people “looking death in the eyes” and nearly 50 million facing crisis levels of food insecurity, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
n an appeal for $178 million to support humanitarian assistance across the seven affected countries in the Greater Horn region, veteran WHO worker Liesbeth Aelbrecht warned that the situation was worse than anything she’d seen in more than two decades in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

1-2 March
Cindy McCain appointed next head of the UN World Food Programme
(UN news) President of WFPs Executive Board, Artur Andrzej Pollok, Ambassador of Poland to the agencies in Rome, welcomed her appointment following a special session of the WFP board at their Rome headquarters, saying that she was taking over “at a moment when the world confronts the most serious food security crisis in modern history and this leadership role has never been more important.”
Cindy McCain tapped as head of World Food Program
The United Nations will announce Thursday that McCain will lead the body — putting a close ally of President Joe Biden at the top of the world’s largest humanitarian group amid war and food crises.
(Politico) The WFP position is apolitical and the U.N. takes great pains to keep it that way. But McCain’s experience campaigning for her husband and relationships with U.S. politicians will be critical as she seeks to marshal resources for a record-high 349 million people suffering acute food insecurity globally, amid a geopolitical firestorm over the war in Ukraine, concerns about China hoarding global food supplies and, most importantly, calls for a pullback in funding support from members of her own party in the U.S. Congress.
While McCain has participated in decades of humanitarian work, her appointment last year as U.S. ambassador to three U.N. food and agriculture agencies marked her first formal role in food policy. In that post, which is based in Rome, she has been part of a small cadre of U.S. diplomats working to limit the damage from Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has sent global food prices sky-rocketing and threatened to destabilize dozens of fragile countries already on the brink of widespread hunger.

3 February
Confronting Global Food Insecurity with U.S. Diplomatic Historian Kelly McFarland
Food insecurity is one of the most daunting global issues: around one billion people are at risk of malnourishment across the world. In 2021, the New Global Commons Working Group at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD) put together Peace Through Food: Ending the Hunger-Instability Nexus, a report that synthesizes analyses of food scarcity and political instability to guide policymakers. In an interview with Kelly McFarland, Director of Programs and Research at the ISD, GJIA discusses the gravity of this crisis and the implications of the Working Group’s report for the leadership of nation-states and international organizations.
Georgetown Journal of International Affairs: In the report Peace Through Food: Ending the Hunger-Instability Nexus, the Working Group described various explanations for worldwide food insecurity with deep concern, including food as a weapon war, food waste, climate change, and global unequal food distribution. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened many of these conditions, but to what degree did COVID-19 undermine the global campaign to end hunger, most notably as one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030? Further, what were the most destructive elements of this pandemic pertaining to food security, and which regions felt the most significant impact?
Kelly McFarland: The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge effect on global hunger, the fight to end global hunger, and the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (UN). I think it undermined this in several ways: first of all, it had a huge effect on expanding the number of people who are hungry and that are going hungry because of the supply-chain breakdowns—including panic-buying in some developed countries or rich countries like the United States. We all saw increased lines of food banks and shelves without meat because of the closure of meat processing plants in the United States. Shutdowns affected people’s ability financially to purchase food as well.
COVID-19 also took people’s focus away from hunger because you’re dealing with a global pandemic. A lot of our efforts were put into creating testing regimes, getting tests that worked out to the public, then getting vaccines and getting those shipped around the world. I think this is something to be expected, but it did affect food and end hunger in multiple ways.

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