Russian war in the world’s “breadbasket” threatens food supply

Spain, Barcelona-Russian tanks and missiles surrounding Ukraine also depend on the vast and fertile farmlands of the Black Sea region known as the “Breadbasket of the World” with the food supply of Europeans, Africans and Asians. It threatens my life. .. “

Ukrainian farmers are forced to ignore their fields as millions of people flee, fight and try to stay alive. Ports around the world to feed wheat and other staple foods into bread, noodles and animal feed are closed. There is also concern that another agricultural powerhouse, Russia, could overturn grain exports with Western sanctions.

There is still no global turmoil in wheat supply, but prices have skyrocketed 55 percent from a week before the invasion amid concerns about what will happen next. Countries that rely on affordable wheat exports from Ukraine may face shortages from July as the war prolongs, Arnaud Petit, director of the International Grain Council, told The Associated Press.

Where government-sponsored bread occupies the majority of the diet, such as Egypt and Lebanon, it can cause food insecurity and put more people in poverty. In Europe, authorities are preparing for potential shortages of products from Ukraine and rising prices for livestock feed, meaning more expensive meat and dairy products if farmers are forced to pass on costs to their customers. There is likely to be.

Russia and Ukraine account for almost one-third of the world’s wheat and barley exports. Ukraine is also a major supplier of corn and a world leader in sunflower oil used in food processing. War has the potential to reduce food supply when prices are at their highest levels since 2011.

In Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, prolonged conflicts can have a significant impact on locations about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) away. Millions of people rely on subsidized bread made from Ukrainian grains to survive, and about one-third of people live in poverty.

“War means deficiency, and deficiency means rising (price),” Ahmed Salah, a 47-year-old, seven-year-old father, told Cairo. “Any hike will be devastating to the vast majority of people, not just me.”

“Wheat, corn, oil, barley and flour are very important for food security, especially in the poorest parts of the world,” said Anna Gurney, a professor of supply chains, logistics, and economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It states.

She said that Ukrainian men are being asked to fight. Who is transporting it? “

Egyptian wheat national suppliers usually buy in large quantities from Russia and Ukraine, but had to cancel two orders within a week. Soaring wheat costs globally could seriously impact Egypt’s ability to keep bread prices at current subsidy levels.

“Egypt has very large grants for bread, and successive governments believe that reducing these grants is the only straw that should be kept away from the camel’s back at any cost. “Masu,” writes Millet McBrook, a senior researcher at the Middle East Institute. Recent analysis.

War-torn Syria recently announced that it would cut spending and distribution staples. In Lebanon, near Lebanon, where a major explosion at the port of Beirut destroyed the country’s major grain stores in 2020, authorities are struggling to make up for the projected wheat shortage, with Ukraine supplying 60. We are supplying%. They are in talks with the United States, India and Canada to find other sources of information in countries that are already in financial crisis.

Kenyans were demanding #lowerfoodprices on social media as inflation eroded their purchasing power, even before the war threatened to affect wheat supply in sub-Saharan Africa. Now they are getting worse.

Wandile Sihlobo, Chief Economist at the South African Agricultural Business Council, said African countries imported $ 4 billion worth of agricultural products from Russia in 2020, about 90% of which was wheat.

In Nigeria, flour millers believe that a shortage of wheat supply from Russia will affect the prices of products such as bread, which is a common food in Africa’s most populous countries.

In the future, “all of us need to look elsewhere,” said Tope Ogun of Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, one of Nigeria’s largest milling companies. “You may not get what you need and the price may go up.”

Nigeria is struggling to reduce its dependence on Russia’s grains, and farmers are trying to plant more wheat fields to meet 70% of the country’s demand in five years.

“We have land, we have people, we have money, we have everything we need in Nigeria,” he said. “All you need now is time.”

The turmoil can be felt as far as Indonesia, where wheat is used to make instant noodles, bread, fried foods and snacks.

Ukraine was Indonesia’s second largest wheat supplier last year, supplying 26% of the consumed wheat. Soaring noodle prices will hurt low-income earners, said Kasan Muri, head of research at the Ministry of Trade.

Ukraine and Russia also account for 75% of the world’s sunflower oil exports and 10% of all cooking oil, IHS Markit said.

Baghdad wholesaler Lard Hebsi said he and other Iraqis are brave enough to pay more for cooking oil.

“When the stored items are sold, the price of these items goes up,” he said. “We are likely to buy alternatives from Turkey, which will undoubtedly take advantage of the situation in Ukraine to raise prices.”

US farmers, one of the world’s leading corn exporters and a major wheat supplier, are watching for a surge in US wheat exports. In the European Union, farmers are concerned about rising costs of livestock feed.

Ukraine supplies the EU with just under 60% of corn and almost half of the main grain components needed for livestock feed. Russia, which provides the EU with 40% of its natural gas demand, is also a major supplier of fertilizers, wheat and other countries.

Spain is in a pinch on both the sunflower oil distributed by supermarkets and the grain of the most important breeding industry. Those imported grains go to feed about 55 million pigs.

Since October, Spanish pork products have suffered high cost losses, Bernice said. These costs are caused by China’s stockpile of feed for pigs to get out of the catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.

In the first two days of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, the price of grain for animal feed has risen by 10% in the Spanish open market.

“We are facing a very high cost moment and we don’t know what’s ahead,” Bernice said. “This is another cost of waging war in the 21st century.”

Joseph Wilson, Samy Magdy, Aya Batrawy, Chineseu Asadu

Associated Press