War and Drought Worsen Global Hunger

Aug. 30, 2022
Even as ships laden with grain resume sailing through the Black Sea, observers say global food insecurity is increasing.

Even as ships laden with grain resume sailing through the Black Sea, observers say global food insecurity is increasing in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The worldwide food situation is a question of access, not availability, Arif Husain, chief economist at the United Nations World Food Programme, told CNBC. “There is food available, but the prices are really high,” he said.

A positive sign is that an agreement between Russia, Ukraine and other parties to allow shipments of grain and other food commodities through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports seems to be functioning. The agreement was signed Aug. 1, and dozens of cargo ships have come through mined harbors. If the agreement holds and the ships keep sailing, it will alleviate the backlog of grain that has been piling up in Ukrainian silos since the war began in February.

Nonetheless, the world food situation remains dire, according to the UN. Global food prices in July were 13% higher than July 2021, and they are capable of going as much as 8.5% higher by 2027.

Worsened by high prices for fuel and fertilizer, and drought conditions in much of the world, the situation will reach “hunger emergency,” defined as one step away from famine, for 345 million people this year, compared with 135 million in 2019, Husain said.

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