Economic Statecraft
The Global Food Crisis: Reasons and the Way Out

Although the world produces enough food to feed all of its 7.7 billion people, it has been facing a growing hunger problem. With the “American +” sanctions against Russia, the whole world has slipped into a severe food crisis. All countries are threatened, including the Western ones, to different degrees. The current food crisis may cause unprecedented acute famine in a large number of countries. According to the United Nations, there are two billion people at risk of starvation in the world, meaning that they go for entire days without eating and starve to death. African and Asian people are the ones at risk, as half of all hungry people, according to a 2021 Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, were in Asia, and more than a third were in Africa in 2020.  

Europe may find itself facing such a crisis. Europeans are also suffering from severe shortages of some foodstuffs and from unprecedented inflation. Prices of grain and oil have increased by 30% throughout the world and by much more in Europe. There is even a crisis in food banks in the West, obviously including Britain, and a severe shortage of infant formula in the United States.

The crisis would have serious political and security repercussions. The deterioration of economic and living conditions may lead to political instability and acts of violence, not only in developing countries but in the United States and Europe as well. It also creates an environment conducive to the flourishing of extremism and terrorism.

Dynamics in the World Grain Market
Wheat is the staple food for more than 35% of the world's population. Supply chain and logistics disruptions to grain and oilseeds production in Ukraine and Russia, as well as restrictions on exports from Russia, will have serious implications for the food security of at least fifty countries that depend on Russian and Ukrainian exports by 30% or more.

The United States and its partners’ sanctions are responsible for having broken the supply chains. The closure of the American and European airspace and ports to Russian aircraft and ships is one of the main reasons for the supply chain interruption that has halted the export of grain from Russia and Ukraine.  Russia is a great power, which plays a crucial role in world food and energy supply chains.  Russia is also the largest exporter of fertilizers in the world, which is vital for food production. Moreover, Russia is the largest exporter of grain in the world, including wheat, shipping 37.3 million tonnes in 2021, while Ukraine is the fifth largest exporter of wheat, shipping 18.1 million tonnes in the same year. It is impossible to isolate or exclude Russia.
Food security is indivisible: it is either security for all or no security for anyone.

The West is shooting itself in the foot and it will push the world to the brink of chaos. Russia is being fair in its demands: to continue exporting grain, that the unilateral and illegal sanctions be lifted, assurance that militants don’t escape in the grain ships from Ukraine, and that the mines Kiev has placed in coastal waters be cleared. The West and Ukraine are the ones who created the crisis and have the key to its solution.  

 It is time for the global south to have one voice and stand together for the abandonment of the American and European system of domination and superiority. The global south is being held hostage to what is going on in the global north. The General Secretaries of UN, the African Union, ASIAN, and others should go to Washington and Brussels to raise our demands.

In tandem, it is important to strive for food self-sufficiency. Sharing food and reducing food waste is also necessary. According to the World Food Programme, one-third of all food produced, over 1.3 billion tonnes of it, is never consumed. Cooperation is imperative, in this context, between different countries. Many countries have vast fertile lands and they are in need of investment and technology. It is time for us all to approach this matter hand in hand.

Global Food Crisis. An Expert Discussion
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.