Global hunger due to Ukraine war - what can be done?
Organisations such as the UN World Food Programme are sounding the alarm: the war in Ukraine is not only causing suffering for those in the disputed areas but also also threatens to unleash a global food crisis. Taken together, Ukraine and Russia produce a third of the world's wheat, for example. Europe's press debates strategies in this dangerous situation.
Corriere del Ticino outlines the dimensions of the problem:
“Twelve out of every hundred calories consumed daily across the globe come from Russia or Ukraine. Together the two countries account for 30 percent of wheat exports. And they also produce other important components of the world's diet, such as sunflower oil and fertiliser. Reduced access to Russian fertilisers alone could mean a 30 percent drop in food production in Africa. Nearly 50 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for at least 30 percent of their grain, and 26 of them are more than 50 percent dependent. The most vulnerable countries include Lebanon, Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey and Indonesia.”
Don't ignore the rest of the world again
Global food supplies must be on the European agenda, NRC Handelsblad warns:
“The war in Ukraine could have an unexpectedly contagious effect and lead to hunger, unrest and conflict, even tens of thousands of kilometres away. ... There is no easy solution. However: the past two years of pandemic have shown that while the West is good at taking care of itself, it forgets the rest of the world too easily when push comes to shove. This must not be allowed to happen again. The international agenda is full. But securing food supplies, which can counter high prices, deserves a lot of attention.”
Agriculture has been neglected
The weekly paper Documento criticises Greece's economic policies of the last decades and the excessive focus on the tourism sector:
“Hundreds of thousands of hectares of land remain unplanted, and many more have been converted because their owners decided to engage in our country's 'heavy industry' [tourism]. With inflation and restrictions on interstate trade in basic foodstuffs, today there is an imminent danger of a food crisis in Greece - no matter how much the Mitsotakis government tries to ignore this huge problem.”
Rethinking organic farming
In a commentary in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, agricultural expert Urs Niggli calls for an agricultural sector that preserves fertile soil but at the same time can feed eight billion people:
“Experiences with organic farming show that protecting the soil and maintaining an intact natural food chain comes at the cost of significant earning power for agriculture. ... We cannot continue to feed a growing world population with 20 percent less food. ... If we can apply fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides in a targeted way, we will cause 90 percent less environmental damage. And if we can breed robust plant varieties quickly, we can effectively support ecology in agricultural systems.”