The impact of the Russian-Ukraine war on food production

Ukraine FlagUkraine is a leading exporter of corn, barley, and rye

Thu, 31 Mar 2022 Source: Joel Savage

For many reasons, the Russian invasion of Ukraine should have been prevented. The most important is to avoid the interruption of food supplies from Ukraine to many parts of the world.

Agriculture which plays a significant role in Ukraine’s economy benefits several countries around the globe. You’ll only miss your water when your well runs dry, they say.

Ukraine, which has some of the most fertile lands, is a country whose agricultural exports-grains, vegetable oils, and a host of other products, reach many countries on the continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Just two weeks after the war, even though there hasn’t been an acute food shortage, there are several products that are not easily reachable in European supermarkets, for example, in most Belgian supermarkets, there aren't enough cooking oil and other products.

Ukraine's most fertile agricultural land located in its eastern regions has been badly affected by the Russian attack and parts of farming places have virtually become ghost towns as the Ukrainians, including children and pregnant mothers seek refuge in close countries.

Ukraine is a leading exporter of corn, barley, and rye but the country's wheat that has the greatest impact on food security around the world.

In 2020, the country exported about 18 million tons of wheat out of a total harvest of 24 million tons, making it the fifth-largest exporter in the world.

Its customers include China and the European Union, but in developing countries, Ukrainian wheat has become an extremely important import commodity.

For example, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about half of all wheat consumed in Lebanon in 2020 was grown in Ukraine.

Relying on bread and other grain products that provide 35% of the population's caloric intake, Lebanon is critically dependent on Ukrainian wheat. Libya imports 22% and 43% of the total wheat volume from Ukraine, respectively.

Egypt, the largest consumer of Ukrainian wheat, imported more than 3 million tons in 2020. It is feared due to the war, could mean a sharp decline in wheat production and exports.

Global food prices are already rising along with the prices of other commodities, and any disruption could lead to further price shocks as importing countries struggle for supplies in an increasingly difficult market.

Columnist: Joel Savage