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Maps: How the energy crisis is affecting global food insecurity

Food insecurity occurs when an individual cannot access a sufficient quantity or quality of food that they need to meet their biological needs.

Disruption to supply chains, rising input costs, and unfavorable weather can have a direct impact on global food security, all of which have had an impact in recent years.

Using data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, let’s take a deep look at food insecurity around the world and discuss how rising energy costs can drive up food prices, exacerbating food insecurity.

The state of global food insecurity

The latest data from FAO Marks 29.3% Of all the world’s population is moderately or severely food insecure, with 40% of this population experiencing severe food insecurity. Based on the FAO definitions, here’s what that means:

  • A mildly food insecure person experiences uncertainty about their ability to obtain food, inadvertently compromising the quantity and/or quality of food they consume.
  • A person with severe food insecurity lacks access to food, and endures long periods without eating

The African continent bears most of the burden when it comes to global food insecurity, with 14 out of the 15 largest food insecure countries located in this region. The data also paints a relatively bleak picture for countries in the Middle East and South America, while North America and Western Europe have moderate or severe food insecurity of less than 10%.

nationPrevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity (average of 3 years, 2019-2021)
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¬ Congo88.7%
πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡± Sierra Leone86.7%
πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡Έ South Sudan86.4%
πŸ‡­πŸ‡Ή Haiti82.5%
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡« Central African Republic81.3%
πŸ‡²πŸ‡Ό Malawi81.3%
πŸ‡±πŸ‡· Liberia80.6%

It is difficult to quantify the prevalence of African food insecurity for one reason alone. Climate change, conflict in Africa, government debt, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have all contributed in various ways to the deterioration of food security conditions in this region.

Conflict between Russia and Ukraine, for example, has drastically reduced European aid to African countries, while grain exports have declined from both Ukraine and Russia, as ports in the Black Sea have suffered disruptions. The war has also disrupted fertilizer supplies, with Russia becoming the largest fertilizer exporter, along with a significant rise in agricultural input costs as energy prices rise in 2022.

How do energy prices relate to food prices?

Food prices have skyrocketed in the past year due to higher energy prices and supply chain disruptions. The FAO Food Price Index, which measures the change in international prices for a basket of food commodities, saw A 14.3% increase Between 2021 and 2022.

indexThe percentage change in price since 2021
General food price index14.3%
Vegetable oils13.9%

As we saw above, individual commodity indices followed this trend, with dairy and grain prices bearing the brunt.

Energy costs flow into food prices in a variety of ways. A simple relationship between historical oil and corn prices, shown below, can paint a telling picture.

What is interesting is that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that the effects of the energy cost crisis in 2022 may not yet be fully realized.

According to their research, a 1% increase in fertilizer prices can lead to a 0.45% increase in food commodity prices. within four quarters. Since natural gas, a major input for nitrogen-based fertilizers, will be 150% more expensive in 2022 than in 2021, this could be a cause for concern in the coming months.

Higher fertilizer costs are also linked to harvest levels in the coming seasons. Decreased fertilizer use as a result of higher costs can lead to diminishing crop yields, and the International Monetary Fund predicts that a 1% decline in global crops will lead to a rise in food commodity prices by 8.5%which may indicate that the worst of food prices – and global food security – is yet to come.

Looking ahead until 2023

Food security is an essential aspect of human existence and plays an important role in the steady economic growth and prosperity of nations. While we may be inclined to think that we are heading in the right direction on a global scale, the FAO paints a different picture, especially for Africa.

The 2030 predictions of global undernourishment predict an 11.5% increase in hunger in Africa, while global hunger in general is projected to decrease. With global inflation rates soaring and food prices still under the influence of the events of 2022, tackling hunger in Africa is as crucial as ever to improving the overall welfare and development of the continent.