19 million people at risk of malnutrition due to war in Ukraine

19 million people at risk of malnutrition due to war in Ukraine

 The war in Ukraine that has halted its wheat exports will keep global prices high through the 2022/23 season, putting millions more at risk of malnutrition, the UN food agency and the OECD said on Wednesday (29/6/2022). Russia and Ukraine are the world's first and fifth largest grain exporters accounting for 20 percent and 10 percent of global sales, respectively, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the closure of the Seas of Azov and Black Sea, almost stopped exports. 

Grain exports from Ukraine are only 20 percent of capacity because alternative routes, such as rail and highway, are not as efficient as sea routes, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said. FAO/OECD projections suggest that 2022/23 wheat prices could be 19 percent above pre-war levels if Ukraine completely loses its export capacity and 34 percent higher if Russia's exports are halved in addition.

 The 2022/23 season begins July 1 in the Northern Hemisphere. “With food security already under pressure, the consequences will be dire, especially for those who are most vulnerable,” said OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann in a presentation of the FAO/OECD Agricultural Outlook 2022-2031. About 20 million tonnes of wheat will have to leave Ukraine by the end of next month to make room for this year's harvest and avoid food shortages in Africa, the European Commission said last month. 

Diplomatic talks are ongoing to open an alternative sea route.
If Russian exports were affected, malnutrition would increase by about 1.0 percent globally by 2022/23, equivalent to between about eight million and 13 million people, depending on the assumed severity of the export reduction, the FAO said in a separate study. 

The scenario simulating severe export shortages from Ukraine and Russia continuing in 2022/23 and 2023/24, and assuming no global production response, shows an increase in the number of undernourished people by nearly 19 million by 2023/24.

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