Fertilizer price spikes after Russia-Ukraine war could lead to more than 1 million deaths: study

Fertilizer price hikes from the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war could claim the lives of 1 million people globally and will be the leading cause of food inflation this year, affecting most of the poorest segments of society. .

“This may be the end of the cheap food era. Most people will feel the impact on their weekly shopping, but the hardest hit will be those who are already struggling to buy enough healthy food.” They are the poorest people in society that may exist. study It is headed by the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. “Fertilizer prices have fallen from peaks earlier this year but remain high, which could lead to high food price inflation continuing into 2023.”

Using computer model simulations, the researchers found that the combined effects of higher fertilizer prices, higher energy costs, and export restrictions could push up food costs by 81% in 2023 compared to 2021. I assumed. Researchers have found that food prices have the greatest impact.

The study estimates that if fertilizer prices remain high, up to 1 million people could die and another 100 million could become undernourished. The largest increases in such deaths are projected to occur in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

Halting exports from Ukraine and Russia would only increase food costs by 2.6% in 2023, while higher energy and fertilizer prices would cause a 74% increase.

fertilizer and food costs

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, food experts have warned of the devastating impact of high fertilizer prices on food security.

Many of the ingredients for making modern fertilizers come from Ukraine and Russia. Moscow is a major producer of nutrients such as phosphate and potash, which are key to fertilizer production.

Rapidly rising fertilizer costs are leading farmers to use less of these products. Fertilizer is the key to producing high yields, and without it, much more farmland would be needed to produce the world’s food.

According to an analysis conducted by the University of Edinburgh, their simulations suggest that fertilizer shortages could increase agricultural land by an area equivalent to that of much of Western Europe.

This would have serious negative impacts on deforestation, biodiversity and carbon emissions, researchers say.

fertilizer crisis

A study by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, released in November, called for urgent action to address the fertilizer crisis. Fertilizer shortages are expected to continue in 2023.

This will especially threaten food security and agricultural production in Africa, as farmers on the continent rely heavily on imported agricultural inputs.

According to the study, 19 WTO Members have introduced 41 fertilizer-related measures between 1 January 2021 and 15 October 2022, 75% of which were in the form of trade policy measures. rice field.

According to the WTO, “export restrictions account for 41% of all fertilizer-related measures, with tariff increases and domestic subsidies putting further upward pressure on international fertilizer prices, especially from the second half of 2021 onwards.” . news release November 14th.

The survey asked a group of 20 countries to deploy all available policy instruments to address the fertilizer situation.

Governments say they should keep fertilizer, feed and food markets open while avoiding export restrictions that are inconsistent with WTO rules.

Naveen Aslapury

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events for The Epoch Times.