Media headlines can give the impression that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is solely responsible for rising food prices and shortages. It is certainly aggravating a precarious food security situation, not least in countries such as Yemen and Lebanon, which relied heavily on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia and were already facing tremendous challenges before Russia’s invasion.
However, food prices were skyrocketing before the war began. And the numbers of hungry and malnourished people have been rising sharply around the world, largely due to other wars and conflicts and their interplay with structural factors shaping food systems. According to the UN, as many as 13 million more people could face malnourishment by next year, on top of the 811 million reported in 2020.
A new FIAN International report, War in Ukraine: Recurring Food Crises Expose Systemic Fragility, shows that the international response to this growing crisis has been flawed and calls on governments and the UN to address structural drivers fueling hunger and malnutrition, as well as war, armed conflicts and widespread violence, in order to stop recurrent global food crises.
“Increasing industrial food production and maintaining overdependence on global trade will not solve this food crisis. Unfortunately, that has been the main international response so far. It is time for the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) to coordinate a global policy response using a human rights approach to change course,” says FIAN Secretary General Sofia Monsalve.
“The international community should properly fund humanitarian responses in all countries facing emergencies and protracted crises, prioritizing support for small-scale farmers and fishers to rebuild and strengthen local food systems and food sovereignty.”
The report draws upon interviews with small-scale food producers and activists in several countries affected by multiple crises, including Ukraine, Yemen and Egypt.
It highlights the main causes of growing hunger and malnutrition, such as the proliferation of wars and conflict; reliance on global value chains and marginalisation of local food production; discrimination and human rights abuses; ecodestruction; and recurrent food price volatility due to growing corporate dominance over land, water, seeds and other resources.
“Ukrainian peasant farmers have been ignored and invisibilized for years, receiving no support at all from the government,” says Attila Szocs-Boruss, from the peasants’ grassroots association Eco Ruralis in Romania, adding that despite Russian bombing of agricultural infrastructure, including tractors, small-scale farmers had proven more resilient than large export-oriented farms.
“They have been critical and now that there are so many internally displaced persons, we see how important they are to feed Ukrainians.”
An effective global food security strategy requires moving away from deregulated markets, curbing speculation and building food reserves at local, national and regional levels – giving priority to food from agroecological, small-scale food producers.
FIAN International calls for the development of a new global trade agenda based on the right to food and the human rights principles of dignity, self-sufficiency and solidarity, as recommended by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
For more information please contact Sofia Monsalve at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the report War in Ukraine: Recurring Food Crises Expose Systemic Fragility,