Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, food prices and global hunger were on the rise.
Growing instances of climate shocks, loss of biodiversity and marine and coastal ecosystems, and the global water crisis were all contributing to an increasingly food-insecure world. The COVID-19 pandemic further disrupted global supply chains, driving food prices upward.
All of these challenges show just how vulnerable how food systems are.
The poor and vulnerable, particularly small farmers and families in low-income counties are more affected by increasing food prices the most, as they spend a larger share of their income on food.
The crisis has been partially made worse by the growing number of food trade restrictions put in place by countries with a goal of increasing domestic supply and reducing prices.
The conflict has also impacted the prices of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, putting an additional burden on smallholder farmers globally and posing a serious threat to the next harvest. After the war, fertilizer prices skyrocketed and remain volatile. Given that Russia and Belarus are major exporters of fertilizers, prices are expected to remain higher for longer.
High food prices have triggered a global crisis that will drive millions more into extreme poverty, magnifying hunger and malnutrition, as many households resorted to eating less healthy and less nutritious food. COVID-19 caused a major setback in global poverty reduction. Now, rising food prices fueled by climate shocks and conflict have halted the recovery.
Even though food insecurity was already on the rise before the pandemic, projections indicate that it will continue to worsen through 2027.
In 2022, the number of people facing acute food insecurity is likely to reach up to 222 million in 53 countries and territories. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).