On Friday, Jakob Kern, an emergency coordinator at the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), warned Ukraine’s food supply chains were collapsing as Russia bombed key infrastructures such as roads, bridges, and trains.
“The country’s food supply chain is falling apart. Movements of goods have slowed down due to insecurity and the reluctance of drivers,” Kern told a Geneva during a video conference from Krakow, Poland.
“Inside Ukraine our job is in effect, to replace the broken commercial food supply chains,” he added, describing the rebuilding task as a “mammoth” one.
Ukraine’s top agricultural export products are corn and wheat. Before the invasion, Ukraine was the second-largest supplier of grains for the European Union and one of the largest suppliers for emerging markets in Asia and Africa. Breaking down the numbers, Ukraine produced 49.6% of global sunflower oil, 10% of global wheat, 12.6% of global barley, and 15.3% of global maize.
Estimates via Black Sea research firm SovEcon show Ukraine’s 2022 corn harvest could plunge as much as 35% from 41.9 million tons last year to 27.7 million tons this year because of all the disruptions. Farmers are already reporting diesel and fertilizer shortages. Wheat harvests are also expected to decline. Some have even pointed total crop output in the country could be halved.
“With global food prices at an all-time high, WFP is also concerned about the impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security globally, especially hunger hot spots,” he said, warning of “collateral hunger” in other places like Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey that rely heavily on Ukraine imports.
All of this has fueled the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to warn global food prices could rise another 8-20% from current levels due to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, also warned today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may cause a global surge in malnutrition and famine.
“For the last three years, global rates of hunger and famine have been on the rise. With the Russian invasion, we are now facing the risk of imminent famine and starvation in more places around the world,” Fakhri said in a statement.
There’s even a spillover risk for the US (read: “Media Isn’t Warning You” That US Careening Towards Food Crisis).