The azure sky and golden fields of wheat depicted in Ukraine’s yellow-and-blue-banded flag represent one of the world’s most important bread baskets. Before the Russian invasion, the country was responsible for 12% of global wheat exports, 16% of global corn exports, and 46% of global sunflower oil production. But that flag, now a symbol of defiance, also represents a cautionary tale about the world’s overreliance on singular sources of vital foods, particularly when it comes to international humanitarian food aid.
The two-month-long conflict has derailed Ukraine’s ability to plant, harvest, and export its major crops, driving higher costs and stoking fears of global food shortages. As the World Food Program’s executive director, David Beasley, warned the United Nations Security Council on March 29: rising food prices would devastate the humanitarian organization’s ability to feed some 125 million people on the brink of starvation because Ukraine had gone “from the breadbasket of the world to breadlines.”
The ripple effect of the Ukraine crisis on global grocery bills, however, is just a taste of what is to come as climate change disrupts the world’s agricultural areas. As temperatures rise due to increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, so too will the price of food. Humanitarian aid is likely to suffer first, with donors’ funds losing their purchasing power when prices of basic commodities like wheat and oil increase.
“The full impact of climate change will make the Ukraine crisis’s impact on food prices look like kindergarten,” says Enock Chikava, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s interim director for agricultural development. “We are already living in a one-degree warmer world, and we are already seeing more pests, more droughts, more heat. If we continue on this trajectory, to 1.5°C or even 2°C, all hell will break loose.”
But simple solutions, in the form of localized farming adaptations, experts say, can play a role in heading off the worst of the impact of looming global food shortages—if they are implemented ahead of time.
A version of this story first appeared in the Climate is Everything newsletter. To sign up, click here.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently estimated that the Ukraine crisis would push up to 12 million people into hunger worldwide. This is in part because, as the FAO estimates, one‑third of Ukraine’s crops and agricultural land may not be …read more
Source:: Time – World