Global food shortages arising from the Russia–Ukraine conflict can be only partially alleviated by international wheat and maize trade, which will lead to rising carbon emissions, according to a modelling study published in Nature Food.
Ukraine and Russia are global breadbaskets, particularly for important grains including wheat and maize. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, global agricultural markets have been destabilized as grain exports have slowed. This has triggered rising food prices and exacerbated food insecurity in regions that rely on grain imports.
Although the short-term implications of the Russia–Ukraine conflict remain uncertain, Jerome Dumortier and colleagues modelled the potential mid- and long-term implications of reduced wheat and maize exports. In an analysis exploring different levels of reduced production and exports, the authors predict that maize and wheat prices will likely increase by up to 4.6% and 7.2% over the upcoming year and longer if the export restrictions persist, respectively. They project that the expansion of wheat and maize production in other regions could partially compensate for export declines, which could dampen price increases. However, the team reveal that this increased production may come at the expense of higher carbon emissions.
The findings from Dumortier and co-authors demonstrate how the trade and production disruptions arising from the Russia–Ukraine conflict may have the double impact of exacerbating ongoing global food security issues — such as drought and high fertilizer prices — and jeopardizing ongoing efforts to mitigate climate change.
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