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.
In many places around the world, hunger is worse than ever before.
That’s the message of the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), released this week. The report paints a grim picture of global food security. Almost 193 million people across 53 countries/territories were acutely food insecure in 2021, up nearly 40 million people from 2020. This number represents a new record and is only expected to worsen throughout 2022.
Communications tools, including digital extension tools (DETs) like phone calls and smartphone applications, can be important pathways to help improve farmers’ knowledge and capacity regarding improved agricultural techniques. However, in many middle- and low-income countries, these tools are underutilized, particularly in rural areas. A recent paper published in Global Food Security examined the use of these tools in in Bihar, India to identify why and how farmers and agricultural extension workers do, and do not, choose to adopt them.
Like people, plants need a multitude of nutrients to thrive. These are categorized into micronutrients, such as zinc and iron; secondary macronutrients; such as calcium and magnesium; and three primary macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Mineral fertilizers provide higher and more plant accessible nutrients, while organic minerals importantly also provide carbon, which contributes to healthy soils.