War in Ukraine risks 11 million-19 million more hungry people next year: FAO

Reduced exports of wheat and other food products from Ukraine and Russia threaten to leave between 11 and 19 million people with chronic hunger over the next year, the United Nations food agency said Friday.

The conflict in Ukraine has fueled a global food crisis, with prices rising for grains, cooking oil, fuel and fertilizers.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of the world’s wheat stocks, while Russia is also a major exporter of fertilizers and Ukraine is a major supplier of maize and sunflower oil.

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Boubaker BenBelhassen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Markets and Trade Division, said the impact of the conflict “could lead to 11 to 19 million more hungry people — that’s chronic hunger before 2022/23.”

This preliminary estimate was based on reduced exports of food products from Ukraine and Russia, he told reporters.

The FAO also said in a report Thursday that rising costs for agricultural inputs such as fertilizer could deter growers from expanding production and worsen food security in poorer countries facing record import bills.

“The countries most affected are in the Near East/North Africa, given their heavy reliance on imports – especially wheat – from these countries, but also vegetable and sunflower oil,” he said.

Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, such as Bangladesh and Indonesia, were also “strongly affected,” he added.

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