Kristalina Georgieva, the International Monetary Fund Managing Director, stated as part of the World Economic Forum this past Wednesday that the current shortages of food globally are an extremely “dire” situation, which means that countries such as the United States must be made to step up and increase their total production and exports.
A large selection of nations across the world is going through a period of constrained food supplies due to the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Those two particular countries were responsible for producing a combined 12% of the world’s caloric intake, along with just about 30% of the wheat traded across the world. Back in March, the United Nations warned that Ukraine’s power to “harvest crops, plant new ones or sustain livestock production” is going to be interrupted because of the upcoming conflict.
As part of an interview that took place with Maria Bartiromo from Fox Business, Georgieva labeled the entire situation as “indeed very dire.”
“Before the war, already there were parts of the world where agricultural productivity dropped as a result of weather events, the Horn of Africa, but also India, which could modestly put some export for the world if that didn’t happen,” she stated as an explanation. “The war, of course, is horrific in this environment. The fact that Russia has blocked the export of grain from Ukraine translates into hunger and yes, potentially famine in Africa … in parts of the Middle East.”
As she mentioned, African nations such as Ethiopia and Kenya, which have already been dealing with horrid drought conditions and livestock deaths related to it, are seeing even more concerning food shortages just as the price of food has started to spike.
Additionally, the Chinese government, under President Xi Jinping, is making use of a zero-COVID policy that has forced the communist nation to go through a severe economic slowdown. While this gambit has seen a small reprieve in the prices of commodities, the overall cost of food continues to steady climb, as stated by Georgieva.
Because of this, she has called for “openness in exports of food,” halting of any “food restrictions,” and choosing to not buy “more food than you need for your own country,” along with calling on the United States to ramp up agricultural output in order to support the rest of the world.
Despite how it has been worded, the United States has not been made immune to these food shortages. Most prominently a severe lack of baby formula has forced the hospitalizations of many American babies.