Crop Biotech Update

Ukraine Crisis Underscores Need for Long-term Solutions for Global Food Security

March 2, 2022

Ukraine is the world's breadbasket, ranked in 2022 as the fifth largest wheat exporter globally, exporting $3.59 billion of wheat. With the conflict that is going on in Ukraine and the resulting longer-term disruptions of the country's rural economy, there is potential for another round of turmoil linked to prices of staple cereals.

Wheat is a staple crop and is essential to food security as it is consumed by more than 2.5 billion people worldwide. Many wheat-consuming countries rely on global imports to meet demand, causing significant vulnerability in food supply and increasing associated humanitarian risks. In 2019, Ukrainian wheat was exported to low- and middle-income countries in North Africa and the Middle East. More than 6 million hectares of wheat in Ukraine are due for harvest in June and July of 2022. Likewise, sanctions and trading restrictions on Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter are likely to place added pressure on international wheat markets. Current price increases are anticipated, and not all buyers are able to pay higher prices.

The humanitarian crisis and current conflict need to be addressed to avoid deepening global divisions in the equality of access to food. In the case of wheat, long-term solutions will require much higher levels of investment, coordination and cooperation between governments, development organizations, and agro-industry. Increasing wheat productivity and profitability in food-insecure regions where wheat has traditionally been grown is one of the solutions, as well as supporting the expansion of wheat production into climatically suitable areas in countries that have traditionally relied on imports to meet local demand.

For more details, read the blog article on the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center website.

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