FAO COUNCIL Hundred and sixty-ninth Session
The war that began on 24 February 2022 has caused extensive damage and loss of life in key population centres, spread across rural areas, and sparked massive displacement. More than 3.6 million people had been forced to abandon their homes and flee across borders to safety.
Millions more are internally displaced. It is clear that the war has resulted in a massive, and deteriorating, food security challenge and disrupted livelihoods during the agricultural growing season in Ukraine and has also affected global food security.
Already prior to the war in Ukraine, international food prices had reached an all-time high. This was mostly due to market conditions, but also high prices of energy, fertilizers and all other agricultural services. In February 2022, the FAO Food Price Index reached a new historical record, 21 percent above its level a year earlier, and 2.2 percent higher than its previous peak in February 2011.
The Russian Federation and Ukraine are prominent players in global trade of food and agricultural products. In 2021, wheat exports by the Russian Federation and Ukraine accounted for about 30 percent of the global market. Russia’s global maize export market share is comparatively limited, standing at 3 percent between 2016/17 and 2020/21. Ukraine’s maize export share over the same period was more significant, averaging 15 percent and conferring it the spot of the world’s 4th largest maize exporter. Combined, sunflower oil exports from both countries represented 55 percent of global supply. The Russian Federation is also a key exporter of fertilizers. In 2020, it ranked as the top exporter of nitrogen fertilizers, the second leading supplier of potassium, and the third largest exporter of phosphorous fertilizer.
Nearly 50 countries depend on the Russian Federation and Ukraine for at least 30 percent of their wheat import needs. Of these, 26 countries source over 50 percent of their wheat imports from these two countries. In that context, this war will have multiple implications for global markets and food security, representing a challenge for food security for many countries, and especially for low-income food import dependent countries and vulnerable population groups.
Joint, coordinated actions and policy responses are needed to address the current challenges for the people most in need and to mitigate the impact on food insecurity at global level. and sixty-ninth Session