War and climate change limit farmers' ability to increase food supply (Milenio)

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Milenio (Mexico) analyses why high prices are expected to remain above pre-pandemic levels.

Climate change and the war in Ukraine will keep food prices much higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, despite signs of moderation in global commodity markets, warn economists and agriculture experts.

Wholesale food prices have stabilized in recent months, raising hopes that the increase in the retail cost of staples such as rice, bread and milk over the past two years decrease in 2023.

The latest update of the price index of internationally traded agricultural products, prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which was published a week ago, in November registered its eighth consecutive monthly decline since the maximum that was reached in March. The November index showed that prices were just 0.3% higher than the previous year.

However, the stabilization of international markets has not yet translated into lower inflation for households around the world. Even if this eventually occurs, costs are likely to remain well above pre-pandemic levels, as conflict and weather limit the ability of growers to take advantage of higher prices by increasing supply.

The Russian invasion has so far affected three agricultural cycles in Ukraine. The 2021 harvest was unable to leave the country when the war broke out in February. The 2022 crops faced harvest and infrastructure problems as some key regions became war zones. Crop yields in Ukraine next year are expected to drop sharply.

“This equates to three consecutive droughts,” says Joseph Glauber, a senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and former chief economist at the US Department of Agriculture.

This is an excerpt of the original article in Spanish. Read more here.

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