Global Food Crisis - A Growing Concern

Global challenges such as the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis have escalated and amplified the issue of food crisis a growing concern in recent years.

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The war in Ukraine has added to the disruption caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality, and created an "Unseen and unmated global food scarcity and hunger crisis" that has already affected hundreds of millions, if not billions of people," by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Many countries around the world are undergoing and witnessing the threat of rising food insecurity, reversing the gains made over the decades to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Even before the epidemic, climate change, disasters, locusts, are increasing poverty and hunger, situations of conflict, etc this is quite contradictory the observation and statistic by leading institutions around the world, who are busy in showcasing the better statistics to their masses. In the last two years, the situation has been exacerbated by disruptions in the food supply chain, including loss of livelihoods and lockdowns. The war in Ukraine has raised fears of growing food insecurity and food crisis, and inflation and disruptions in the food supply chain have pushed millions to starve, especially the less fortunate nations, where food crisis was always a problem.

Many countries around the world are at risk of increasing food insecurity, reversing the decades of gains they have made to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Pandemics and war have driven up inflation worldwide, driving up food and energy prices. According to the World Bank, all countries, regardless of income level, life style, have been hit by commodities price inflation of more than 5-25 percent – ​​with 94 percent of low-income countries hit the hardest, and 70 percent of high-income countries. According to the Commodity Market Outlook to 2022, the war has changed trade, production and consumption by driving up prices, leading to food insecurity and inflation. Rising energy prices increase agricultural and manufacturing costs, which in turn increase food prices.

Global food prices have witnessed inflation by 20.7 per cent year-on-year, pushing up prices. The war has pushed up food prices by 40 percent, and the combined effect of the epidemic, climate change, is reversing the global trend of reducing hunger and malnutrition globally. In a region already plagued by drought and famine, prices are rising and the food crisis is at its worst. High-income-food-safe countries such as the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) are also affected by food insecurity. The situation is similar to the global food crisis of 2007-08, which led to economic instability, food shortages and rising prices.

The 2022 Global Report on Food Crisis shows an alarming level, 200 million people facing food insecurity due to conflict, economic shocks and extreme weather conditions.

Another threat to food security is the ever growing global population, approximate pojecrions put forward the number  9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by around 2100 from the current global population of 7.6 billion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 'overpopulation threatens global food supplies' and could run out of food around 2030.

In 2022, the World Bank's Rapid Phone Survey in 83 countries found that low-calorie intake and compromised nutrition in families during epidemics. Food insecurity has a long-term effect on children's health, and mental & over all cognitive development. Crisis disrupted the food supply chain affecting food production and result into scarcity of the resources and inflation.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 'overpopulation threatens global food supplies' and could run out of food around 2030.

Child malnutrition rates are high in countries facing food crises due to food shortages, poor infant feeding practices, high rates of childhood illness and lack of sanitation and clean drinking water, high mortality rate in children before they reach age of 5 years. According to UNICEF, global hunger is pushing one child into severe malnutrition every minute in severe crisis-hit nations. Rising prices from the Ukraine war and financial losses from the pandemic have led to an alarming rise in levels of severe malnutrition among children. However a lesson can be learned from China to fight the global challenge of malnutrition among children.

It is clear that the world is far from achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 on zero hunger by 2030, an estimated 840 million people will suffer from hunger by 2030. Outbreaks appear to be aggravated during the global food crisis, resulted into an increase in food production, distribution, and consumption. Another 40 million people will face food insecurity by 2020, a worrying trend. Uncertain determinants of poverty and inequality must be tackled in order to cope with the food crisis.

The alarmingly high incidence of food insecurity and the rate of malnutrition clearly reveal the fragility of the global food system, further strained by natural disasters, epidemics, escalating conflicts and insecurity, and food inflation. The Ukraine conflict has worsen the current challenge of food insecurity for billions of people around the world. Food shortages have been intensified by the impact on food exports from Ukraine and Russia through Black Sea ports. Both countries account for 30 per cent and 18 per cent of global wheat and maize exports, respectively.

The alarmingly high incidence of food insecurity and malnutrition rates clearly reveal the vulnerability of a global food system further strained by natural disasters, epidemics, escalating conflict and insecurity, and food inflation.

Conflict and instability put countries in a precarious situations, where the benefits of development are lost and livelihoods are disrupted. The United Nations General Assembly, in its 76th session, adopted a resolution calling for a "global food security situation" to address the global food crisis. Ensuring global food security requires a concerted effort by the government, the international community, civil society, the private sector and charities. Like G7 leaders, it is committed to protecting vulnerable classes of people from hunger and enhancing global food and nutrition security. The situation is critical and an integrated approach is needed to take large-scale action to protect lives and livelihoods and to address the food crisis, climate crisis and epidemic consequences. It is necessary to invest in sustainable food systems to create resilience and ensure recovery.

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