The humanitarian disaster produced by Russia’s needless invasion of Ukraine shocks the conscience: 10 million Ukrainians displaced and innumerable Ukrainians killed. But because Ukraine and Russia are both major food exporters, the human toll will grow much larger, far from Ukraine’s borders.
As Ukraine’s farms have turned into battlefields, uncertainty around the country’s agricultural exports, as well as Russia’s, has created a global food emergency by driving up the prices of wheat, corn, soybeans, fertilizers and sunflower oil.
The prices of commodities like wheat and corn are global, but their shocks are inequitable. Wealthier countries and people can absorb sharp price increases. Meanwhile, people in poorer countries, like Sudan and Afghanistan, are finding it far more expensive to eat. In Sudan, rising wheat prices have caused the price of bread to roughly double. Because Ukraine and Russia exported livestock feed and fertilizer before the war, the cost and difficulty of producing food will increase in the months and years ahead.