'Very, very worried': Another bleak year expected for food security (Devex)

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As the war in Ukraine approaches its second year and climate change continues to wreak havoc in places such as the Horn of Africa, experts are bracing for another year of dire consequences for global food security, writes Devex.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to a spike in global grain and fertilizer prices as it became extremely difficult to get exports out of the country. While a United Nationsbrokered deal has eased some of the supply issues, the high cost of fertilizers means it’s still out of reach for many farmers.

As fertilizer prices are expected to remain elevated, David Laborde, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, warned against subsidies, which he described as expensive and “not smart.” Other interventions, like increased access to extension services, technical expertise, and data about soil quality, are a better use of government funds, he said.

“Any new weather shock can still lead to a significant increase in prices,” said Laborde, who added that he had been hopeful last year that 2022 would see the world shrugging off the supply chain effects of COVID-19.

“Overall, I am more pessimistic right now than I was in the fall of last year,” Laborde said. “Weather, level of stock, fertilizer, macroeconomic situation with the debt crisis and inflation rate … the situation is going to be tense again this year.” Inflation is putting pressure on the poorest households and is likely to continue to make the situation worse for the most vulnerable, he said. However, he was hopeful that there won’t be another massive spike in global food prices but remained worried that they have stabilized at such high levels.

Laborde said that the income of the poorest will not catch up with higher prices, and it will affect nutrition as people modify their diets towards less nutritious foods in favor of cheaper calories. Read more

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