Africa: ‘Russia-Ukraine Conflict Poses New Challenge to Global Food Security’


The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, which came at a time when economies worldwide were still grappling with the negative effects of COVID-19, poses a new challenge to global food security, an official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said.

“Many countries rely on supplies from Ukraine and Russia for their food import needs, including numerous least developed countries and low-income food-deficit countries,” Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, director of FAO’s trade and markets division, told Xinhua in a recent written interview.

‘Russia and Ukraine are major agricultural producers and exporters’, he said, adding that Russia stood as the world’s top exporter of nitrogen fertilisers, the second leading supplier of potassium fertilisers and the third largest exporter of phosphorous fertilisers in 2021.

“Disruptions to Ukrainian and Russian grain and oilseed production and exports and restrictions on Russia’s exports can have significant impacts on global food security,” noted Ben-Belhassen.

The conflict was resulting in reduced exportable supplies, as well as higher energy, fertiliser and overall input prices, which in turn translated into higher costs of production and eventually higher food prices, according to the official.

“FAO’s simulations suggest that international food and feed prices could rise by 8-22 percent above the baseline levels and the number of undernourished people could increase by 8-13 million people in 2022/23 (season),” he said, adding the actual impact will depend on the duration and magnitude of the conflict.