The Russian war in Ukraine has had immediate repercussions for global food markets given the countries’ role as major exporters of essential agricultural products, such as wheat, sunflower oil, barley and corn, while also affecting perishable foods like fruits and vegetables.
As shown in FAO data, the price of basic food products has surged since the invasion of Ukraine after already having followed an upward trend since 2020 over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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As Statista’s Katharina Buchholz notes, in the past, similar surges in the price of food have led to unrest, mostly in developing countries, and even coincided with the Arab Spring in 2011, when populations in North Africa and the Middle East cornered by oppressive regimes and feeling the additional squeeze on their livelihoods due to high prices rose up and toppled several regional regimes.
The current level of food prices is even surpassing the peaks observed in 2011 and 2008, when food and other prices rose dramatically, causing unrest in several African countries as well as in Bangladesh, Haiti, Indonesia and Yemen. The onset of the global financial crisis put an end to the price surge that year.
In the current situation, Human Rights Watch has warned that food crisis could hit North Africa and the Middle East again, as several countries in the region are major importers of Russian or Ukrainian food products. According to Cornell University economics professor Chris Barrett, the potential for unrest is again heightened. At the beginning of March, protests over food prices took place in Iraq.
Yet we speak wisdom among those who are mature, although not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age knew it. For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10 Modern English Version)