Ukraine, described as the food basket for the world, produces commodities like wheat, corn and sunflower oil, not just for its own people, but also for people in the rest of Europe and beyond.
Ukraine has long been known for its fertile plains and agricultural produce which is cheaper than in the rest of Europe and the United States. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Black sea ports give it easy access to international markets.
The combination has made the Eastern European country a major exporter of many agricultural commodities, and the world's number one exporter of sunflower oil.
Food products produced with Ukrainian cereals such as corn and wheat can be found in markets and kitchens around the world. But Ukraine's exports have collapsed over the past few months due to the war with Russia.
The disruption to Ukrainian exports is sending shockwaves through the region and the rest of the world with food prices surging to record highs. There have been many warnings that the situation could have a devastating impact.
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, raised the alarm warning that a war would soon cause a global food crisis that may last for years.
The warning comes as the conflict has cut off supplies from Ukrainian ports; the UN Secretary General said the conflict has worsened food insecurity in poorer nations due to a surge in prices of commodities.
The latest warning comes as Russia and the West trade blame for the conflict, which doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon.
Time seems to be running out fast for the world to take measures to avert a full blown international food crisis. According to the United Nations, global food prices are already 30% higher than they were at the same time last year. Experts warn that the situation could worsen very rapidly if action is not taken to alleviate the situation.
The severe shortages due to the conflict in Ukraine are triggering leaders of other countries to turn to food protectionism putting further strain on global food markets.
Food prices climbed higher last week after India banned wheat exports. New Delhi argues that the curbs are essential for its own food security and also for keeping domestic prices in check.
The UN chief warns that the only effective solution to the crisis is restoring Ukraine's food production and fertilizer production by both Russia and Belarus.
The UN Secretary General says he is in intense contact with Russia and Ukraine, as well as the US and the EU, in a bid to restore food exports back to previously normal levels.
Around 20 million tons of grain is currently stuck in Ukraine from last year's harvest, which, if released, could ease pressure on global markets.
Antonio Guterres says overcoming the current situation requires goodwill on all sides. The chaos is widely blamed on the geopolitical rivalry between the West, mainly the United States, and the Russian Federation.
The devastating impact of the tug of war in Ukraine
This could have been avoided. But this was not done because we know that, of course, NATO has been expanding eastwards and keeps prodding Russia and keeps wanting to engage.
And now they're asking for more and more weapons so they want to step up and escalate the situation, which is very, very dangerous and could lead even to world war three, it could lead to a nuclear global war, so, more people should be aware of the severity of the situation.
Richard Werner, Professor of Banking and Finance, LCBS
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