Food for the world

Article bay
11 min readSep 12, 2022

Civil wars, the global crisis, COVID-19 and climate change — these are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, threatening the world’s food security and thus the political stability of the globe.

[Photo: Joe z Pixabay]

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hit not only the citizens of the other country, but also people living in countries and cities many thousands of kilometers away from where the armed conflict is taking place. Only in theory is it regional in nature. In practice, it affects a large part of the globe, including — residents of many poorer countries that depend on imports of Russian or Ukrainian grains, primarily — wheat, as well as other crops, such as barley or sunflower seeds (and sunflower oil). Wheat, however, remains the most important, as Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30% of world trade in this grain. And it is a not insignificant trade. Admittedly, the most produced grain in the world is corn (1.1 billion tons in 2020), and wheat is in second place (760 million tons), but it is the latter that dominates world markets. Every year, nearly a quarter of production, some 180 million t, sets off on a long journey by ship and train.

The direction of this global wheat migration is, with some exceptions, one: from Europe, North America and Australia, i.e. the Global North, to countries in Asia and Africa, i.e. the Global South. The top five exporters include both Russia and Ukraine. Together, they sold 56 million tons of valuable grain abroad in 2020. Dozens of countries are on their customer list, and more than 20 of them depend at least 50% on supplies of wheat arriving from Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Among them are the poor Asian countries of Laos, Yemen, Lebanon and Bangladesh. The majority, however, are African countries: Somalia, Benin, Laos, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Senegal, Rwanda or Madagascar.

[Photo: $uraj tripathi from Pixabay]

Over the past two decades, Africa has begun to buy more and more wheat. As recently as the beginning of the 21st century, consumption of this grain across the continent was 20–30 million tons per year. In 2020, it was already approx. 80 million, of which as much as 55 million were imported. This is a manifestation of a worldwide trend. Wheat is