The war in Ukraine has pushed prices of agricultural products to historically high levels, and concerns about global food security occupy headlines and world leaders’ minds, as demonstrated by recent IMF and World Bank meetings. So far, much of the attention has focused on grains, particularly wheat—because of its importance in diets, and the predicament of countries where wheat accounts for a large share of calories consumed, is largely imported, and is dominated by supplies from the Black Sea.
With the Russia-Ukraine conflict disrupting global supply chains, roiling markets and raising food and fuel prices, some governments have responded with restrictions on agricultural exports. While these policies may be domestically appealing, however, they have wider ramifications for global food prices and food security, according to the May AMIS Market Monitor. The report emphasizes that restrictive trade measures like export restrictions will further limit available food stocks, raise food and fuel prices even higher, and push poor populations into more acute food security.
Last week, the heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, United Nations World Food Program, and World Trade Organization issued a joint statement calling for urgent global action on food security in response to skyrocketing global food prices.
From bad to worse: How Russia-Ukraine war-related export restrictions exacerbate global food insecurity
Global turmoil and supply shocks can increase a country's vulnerability to food shortages. In the past, countries have often resorted to restrictive trade policies to address food supply disruptions. The Ukraine-Russia crisis is no exception; a number of countries have imposed export restrictions in various forms.
Do No Harm: Measured policy responses are key to addressing food security impacts of the Ukraine crisis
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is likely to have serious consequences for global food security. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that if there is a prolonged disruption in exports of wheat, fertilizer, and other items from Ukraine and Russia, the number of undernourished people worldwide could increase by 8 to 13 million people in 2022/23, with the most pronounced increases taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).