High international food prices caused by the war in Ukraine has caused many countries to tighten their belts and institute food rationing. In a report by the United Nations, Ukraine’s harvest is expected to be cut in half this year and prices have surged since March due to increased demand for imports. The price hikes in Russia have been so severe that its government has declared a “food emergency,” meaning that it will accept donations of food from abroad while limiting exports of some agricultural products.
It has reached nearly 16% in Ukraine with daily bread rations slashed to 6 lbs per person; meanwhile, bread is selling for around $6-7 more than it did last year at this time. Inflation is also a severe problem in South Sudan, Sudan and Venezuela where food prices have risen by nearly 40% since last year. In the U.S., President Obama has asked for an additional $1.5 billion to deal with the rising food prices in America caused by the war in Ukraine along with $3.4 billion to feed people affected by hurricanes and droughts this year; meanwhile, Congressional Republicans are fighting to repeal cuts to agriculture subsidies despite the rising cost of food across America.
In the United Kingdom, food consumption has fallen 9% in the past year according to retailers, while the number of food banks have risen by 30% in the past year. In Italy, a new government decree will mean that people on welfare programs will receive vouchers of 50 euros per month to buy food; meanwhile, Spain has seen its first strike by supermarket workers in 40 years over wage cuts and job losses as supermarkets work to combat rising costs. In Japan a month’s supply of rice has risen to nearly $300 for the average person due to attempts by farmers to avoid steep tariffs on imports of wheat plus flooding caused by typhoons.
The situation in Ukraine
It has led to a major shift by German farmers who are now planting more crops that can be used in biofuel production instead of food crops. In America, drought has caused corn and soybean yields to fall while prices rise across the country; meanwhile, one-fifth of all farmland is lying idle this year due to lack of water and farmers across America have been forced to slaughter half a million cattle so far this year as part of an “Unlivestock” movement.
Meanwhile, the price of coffee beans (Arabica) has risen by 25% this year due to heavy rains during the harvest season in Brazil because Arabica beans make up nearly 70% of all coffee beans grown around the world today.
What does this mean for me?
The price of your daily bread may rise, it could go up in price as much as 18% by mid-December according to the USDA. International food prices have risen so high that the United Nations has declared a global food emergency, the UN expects 789 million people will be undernourished around the world this year, which is about 1 out of every 8 people on earth. The World Bank expects global food prices to rise by nearly 5% in 2015 and 2016 due to supply issues in Ukraine along with droughts and floods in Australia and Brazil. You should expect high food prices over the next few years due to drought, war and crop failures around the world.
How do I prepare?
Buy extra food now while food prices are relatively low in case prices rise in the future. You should also learn how to cook cheap meals, buy a pressure cooker, use dried beans and other alternatives to expensive foods like meat. In some areas, your local food bank may not be able to meet demand and you may be forced to grow your own food or rely on family for help. You should also learn basic first aid and get emergency supplies together such as flashlights, radios and batteries. Weather related issues may also cover more than just your local area and you should learn how to prepare for these events.
What can I do?
The best thing you can do is to support the efforts of local members of the community that are working to solve these problems. You should also support the efforts of your local food banks or alternative systems where needed. If you have the resources, you can donate money or time to a relief effort in Ukraine or elsewhere in the world that helps people during times when disasters strike and food prices rise; meanwhile, those fortunate enough to have the resources should be prepared for future catastrophes with alternative income sources.