Food insecurity rises: Foodgrains Bank
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This article was published 17/03/2022 (437 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE Russian invasion of Ukraine will hurt the developing world through food shortages and rising prices.
Andy Harrington, executive director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, envisions a troubling time for the world’s poorest people.
Noting Russia and Ukraine together provide much of the world’s cereal crops (wheat, barley and maize), he said the fighting will have a major impact.
“Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe,” Harrington said. “It is the fifth-largest exporter of wheat. Russia is No. 1. Any disruption to production will be a huge hit to the world’s food supply.”
Along with the fighting, global supply chain issues, a rise in shipping costs, and sanctions on Russian exports are causing dramatic increases in food prices.
“We will feel that in Canada, but the impact will be even greater in poor countries,” Harrington said.
Although the Foodgrains Bank no longer ships food from Canada to the developing world — it buys food locally or provides cash vouchers to food-insecure people — rising prices means the organization is paying more for food than a year ago and the amount of food people can buy with vouchers is reduced.
“Everyone will pay more for food, but people in poor countries are really going to suffer,” Harrington said, adding: “We expect prices to continue to rise.”
Fifty countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30 per cent or more of their supply of wheat, Harrington said, a number of them are located in the developing world. Countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, Syria and Lebanon are especially vulnerable.
The result could be a “full-blown food crisis,” for the world’s 800 million food-insecure people, he said, adding 45 million are already facing starvation.
In Ukraine, the Foodgrains Bank is working through its members to provide food, water and shelter to some of the almost three million refugees who have fled that country.
“We are really grateful for those who have supported our work there,” said Harrington. “We hope they will also continue to be mindful of the broader impacts of the war in Ukraine.”
Last year, the Foodgrains Bank provided $49 million in food and related programming for 989,000 people in 33 countries. In the 2021-22 budget year (ending this month), $17. 2 million has been donated to the organization, with $4.2 million of that coming from Manitoba.
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John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
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