The war in Ukraine and its impact on the global supply of agricultural products, especially grain, has intensified the discussion about food security worldwide. Leading international organisations, the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, have repeatedly warned that the soaring food prices could lead to a global food crisis and even a hunger hurricane in certain parts of the world. Developing countries grappling with the effects of the Covid19 pandemic, inflation and food insecurity even before the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February 2022 are more likely to face a risk of a food crisis. Considering the volume of grain imports from Ukraine and Russia, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) is among the most reliant and, at the same time, the most vulnerable zones in the context of the repercussions of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, Ukrainian and Russian wheat represents 60% of the total wheat imports. This article presents the context in which the MENA countries face rising food prices and grain supply disruptions from the Black Sea region, combined with rising global energy and fertiliser prices, adding further pressure to food prices.
Even though the whole MENA region has been affected by the socio-economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, it does not represent a homogeneous group regarding the available means and capacities necessary for their mitigation. Thanks to the current high commodity market prices and higher fiscal revenues, oil and gas exporting countries can more quickly absorb price shocks. Conversely, countries weakened by military conflicts and hit by political and economic instability, such as Yemen and Syria and non-hydrocarbon producer countries such as Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, feel additional social and financial stress. Given the importance of wheat in the national diets of the Middle East and North African nations, bread has become a politically sensitive commodity. Despite the pressure they exert on national budgets, the governments of the MENA region are reluctant to reduce bread subsidies, fearing the emergence of new waves of unrest. To prevent further waves of migration and mass forced displacement, the current crisis and its risks require international cooperation. Otherwise, the EU countries, like in 2015, may become the primary destination of mass migration from the MENA region. The war in Ukraine has prompted a debate about the importance of food self-sufficiency and local agricultural production. The article creates a basis for further research and analysis of the origin of food dependency in the MENA region and its potential solutions.
DOWNLOAD Long Read via link: