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The Rise of Food Security in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Conflict – Global Issues

In 2021, an employee in Chernihiv, Ukraine, displays wheat grains on a conveyor belt as they are loaded for storage in granary containers. Photo: Anatolii Stepanov / FAO
  • Idea by Mario Lubetkin (Roman)
  • Joint press service

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) main annual report on food insecurity to be presented in the second half of 2021, follow-up reports on crises in at-risk regions biggest food insecurity and the current war between Russia and Ukraine, confirm these pessimistic global trends affecting every region of the world.

By 2020, more than 800 million people are already hungry. The strong impact of COVID-19 is forecast to have increased by 100 million over the past two years, continuing the negative trend of the past five years.

With just eight years before 2030, the day set by world leaders to end poverty within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global food insecurity and malnutrition continues in any way. Insufficient progress is being made to allow us to review the ability to achieve these goals within the agreed time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the causes of vulnerabilities and shortages in global agri-product systems – the activities and processes that affect food production, distribution and consumption.

The challenge of overcoming hunger and malnutrition in all its forms (including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity) is not just about getting enough food to survive. Food for humans, especially for children, must also ensure adequate nutrients.

The high costs of healthy diets, which are likely to increase due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, will drive more and more families around the world away from the goal of improving nutrition.

The dramatic conflict in Europe that began on 24 February, the impact of which remains puzzling to its full extent, suggests that these trends will worsen.

Just think that Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and Ukraine is fifth. Together, they provide 19% of the world’s barley supply, 14% of the world’s wheat and 4% of the corn, and 52%. sunflower oil market in the world, and Russia is also a major producer of fertilizers.

Some 50 least developed countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with low incomes and large food deficits, have obtained more than 30% of their wheat from the region currently in severe conflict.

According to a recent FAO study, food prices started to rise in the second half of 2020, reaching an all-time high in February 2022 due to high demand for products, inputs and transportation costs.

The study was still unable to document clear trends in the effects of the war that began in February, but considering the difficult conditions for carrying out the traditional June harvest in Ukraine, the displacement is large. in many areas of the country are reducing the number of agricultural workers, as well as difficulties in accessing the agricultural sectors, transportation, and other aspects, which makes it possible to foresee a very complicated situation.

Countries with large populations such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran and Turkey, which are the main importers of wheat, buy more than 60% of that product from Russia and Ukraine. Other countries have strong internal conflicts, such as Libya and Yemen, and countries like Lebanon, Pakistan and Tunisia are also heavily dependent on wheat from these two European countries.

If the situation continues in this direction, it is certain that the number of hungry people will increase, this number in the Middle East will reach 69 million people by 2020 due to conflict, poverty, climate change, scarcity natural and economic resources. crisis, in addition to the impact of COVID-19.

In Asia and the Pacific, during the same period, more than 375 million people were living in poverty, facing high levels of poverty, economic contraction, climate change, and COVID-19, among others. other aspect.

In Africa, increasing hunger continues for the same reasons as in the other two regions. Latin America and the Caribbean are not far behind, reaching 9.1% of the region’s population, slightly below the world average of 9.9% of the population.

Faced with a possible increase in this global scenario, aggravated by the war between Russia and Ukraine, FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, has called for a hold on world trade in food. and fertilizers are open to protect the production and marketing activities needed to respond. national and global needs.

He also asked to find new and diversified food suppliers for the importing countries to enable them to absorb the possible reduction in imports from the two conflicting European countries. He also focuses his concerns on supporting vulnerable groups, including internally displaced people in Ukraine, expanding the social safety net and predicts that around the world “will many people are pushed into poverty by conflict.”

The QU urges governments to avoid unscheduled policy responses because of their international impact, “because reducing import duties or using restrictions that reduce exports can help address agricultural product security issues.” for individual countries in the short term, but it will push prices higher in the world market.”

He also requested increased transparency on world market conditions for governments and investors, drawing on existing tools such as the Group of 20 (G20) Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS). ).

© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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