Ukraine War Sparks Food Shortages in Arab Nations

Russia and Ukraine contribute nearly 30% of the world’s wheat exports and more than 50% of global sunflower seed oil exports. The Middle East and Africa consume 40% of wheat and corn from Ukraine. These regions were already struggling with hunger problems, and further food shortages or hikes in food commodity prices could force millions of people into poverty. The invasion of Russia in Ukraine would likely aggravate global hunger and poverty.

Slowly Rising…

Global food prices were already rising following supply chain disruption and inflation associated with the pandemic. However, some food prices, particularly wheat, have risen drastically due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Countries like Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria, which depend on Russia and Ukraine for wheat and vegetable oil, are experiencing soaring prices and vanishing supplies of these products porno français.

The situation is dire in Lebanon. As of March, flour stocks have been disappearing from shops while the cost of bread has risen by 70%. According to some residents, supermarkets hoard essential food commodities and later sell them at hiked prices. Even before the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Lebanon was grappling with a financial meltdown. The country’s currency has diminished in value by over 90% since 2019. Lebanon imports over 70% of its wheat from Ukraine, implying tougher times for consumers. The economic minister Amin Salam had asked India, the US, and Canada for wheat donations and discounts. The soft wheat produced by these countries is used to prepare the large circular bread pockets popular in Lebanon. The shortage of silos in the country after the Beirut port explosion is also a contributing factor. The country has about a month’s reserves, with mills acting as stores in recent months. The mills play a role in rationing available wheat while consumers purchase larger amounts of bread and hoarding in freezers. Sunflower and vegetable oils have also disappeared from the market.

Egypt is also facing a similar crisis, with Egyptians expressing concerns over the rising prices of bread and other foods and their availability. The country imports about 75 of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. The price of bread has gone up by 50%, with the merchants blaming the increased prices on the high cost of ingredients like oil. In a report released by FAO, Egypt is among several countries with more than 70% of the population having limited access to a healthy diet and are in dire need of greater affordability. In an effort to cushion the country against reduced grain imports, Egypt has banned the export of wheat, flour, lentils, fava beans and pasta to protect its reserves.

Syria has been dealing with bread crisis for several years. War coupled with prolonged droughts has forced Syria to depend wholly on Russia for wheat. The country also imports maize from Ukraine. The Syrian government has deployed emergency measures to avert an economic fallout; it expects to ration commodities like rice, wheat, potato, sugar and vegetable oil.

A Larger Crisis is Looming

Since the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, Indonesia has introduced new restrictions on the exports of palm oil to control its prices, and Hungary has halted all grain exports. On the other hand, Serbia plans to ban the exports of corn, wheat, flour, and cooking oil. With the uncertainties brought by the invasion, Ukraine has banned the export of rye, buckwheat, meat, oats, salt, millet and sugar and put in place some restrictions on corn and wheat. In a move that will aggravate the situation, China, the world’s largest consumer of wheat, is anticipated to purchase more than it usually purchases from the global markets this year. This is after severe floods disrupted most of China’s planting.