Ukraine War Roils Global Agriculture

April 8, 2022
The war in Ukraine continues to have devastating effects on agriculture and the food industry in Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the world.

The war in Ukraine continues to have devastating effects on agriculture and the food industry in Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the world.

In Ukraine, Russia’s invasion has completely disrupted Ukraine’s agricultural sector, economically important not just internally but globally. Ukraine exports an estimated 10% of the world’s wheat, 14% of its corn and half of its sunflower oil. Officials there say that 25% less land than usual will be cultivated this year, an estimate that agricultural experts call optimistic.

Russian attacks have also inhibited or destroyed agricultural and food processing facilities, such as a Mondelēz snack factory in Trostyanets, or Europe’s largest chicken-raising operation on the Black Sea coast. Disruption in supplies and shelling has killed almost 4 million birds at the Chornobaivske chicken farm.

In Russia, the average share of disposable income that consumers spend on food has doubled, to 40%, since the war started, according to the director of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Russian government’s own data shows food inflation hitting 18.75% since the war started, as Western economic sanctions take hold.

Many consumers have started hoarding staples like sugar and buckwheat, and Russia is considering instituting price controls. "People are postponing plans like going to college or buying a house. They're saving in case they lose their job, in case of death," an FAO official told Reusters.

Globally, the war has been deemed largely responsible for a 17% rise in grain prices since April. The FAO’s food price index, which tracks monthly changes for a group of commodities, rose 12.6% from February to March.

Other factors besides the war contribute to food problems, especially drought and other bad weather. In addition to crops, Russia is a major source of fertilizer, especially for Africa. Much of this shipped via the Black Sea, center of some of the worst fighting.

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