I can’t judge whether Putin actually calculates that way. It would take quite a while for such refugee movements to actually build up in the affected regions. But in any case, Putin creates dependencies in countries that depend on Russian grain imports. Putin wants to make the states that need these imports compliant. To answer the question about the dimensions of the new global hunger: Unfortunately, there is no real-time data on the number of hungry and malnourished people worldwide. However, I still think it is realistic to estimate that, in the worst case, another 100 million people around the world could be threatened by starvation as a result of the war. Because the high grain prices will remain for the time being.
Estimates are difficult to make. Based on the latest figures, it can be assumed that only 70 percent of the previous year’s yield will be achieved. It is true that there are still people in Ukrainian agriculture who are taking care of care, fertilization and plant protection during these weeks. However, the crucial question is: Can harvesting take place on time in July and August and can the harvested quantities be stored in the silos? The silos in Ukraine are still relatively full. If the stored quantities do not go out and the new harvest cannot be accommodated, the grain threatens to rot in the fields in summer.
Grain from the Ukraine is mainly exported to North Africa, the Near and Middle East and, to some extent, to East Africa. In addition, there are political regulations in Russia as to who is supplied with grain and who is not. There are over 50 countries worldwide that source at least a third of their grain imports from either Russia or Ukraine.
The step does not come as a complete surprise. The Indian government reacted similarly when grain prices skyrocketed in 2007/2008 and 2010. In addition, there is currently an extreme heat wave in India, which will have a negative impact on its own wheat harvest. When you consider that in this country of more than a billion people, many are very poor, it is clear why every Indian government sees affordable access to food as an important goal. Nevertheless, it would have made more sense to curb exports through higher export taxes instead of imposing a complete freeze. That would have had a gentler effect.
That doesn’t change the fact that the imposition of the export ban caused international panic. On the commodity futures markets, prices have skyrocketed again. India is the second largest producer of wheat in the world. In addition, some countries currently affected by the crisis in East Africa had begun to import grain from India, which is in storage there. There was certainly hope that India would be able to replace at least part of the missing volumes from Ukraine.
Basically I think it is better to help the socially needy with income transfers than with price reductions. Prices are always a signal that certain goods are in short supply. In the long term, however, it is desirable that people eat less meat and more fruit and vegetables. And there you can definitely create incentives through prices. Basically, I don’t think the idea of reducing VAT on fruit and vegetables is wrong at all. But not for meat.
no The potential that could be mobilized in these areas in the short term is relatively small. The ecological focus areas play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity. However, it would be worth considering once again suspending the planned EU regulation, according to which the set-aside areas should be increased to four percent from 2023. That would not mean reducing existing set-aside areas, but allowing the planned EU regulation to expand it to take effect a year or two later.
Only very limited. I think it is much more important to change something in the EU’s “Farm to Fork” strategy. One goal of this strategy is to increase organic farming to 25 percent across the EU by 2030. I think that’s wrong. Yes, we have to become more ecological and climate-friendly. In the understanding of many politicians, however, this is automatically linked to the goal of more and more organic farming, and that is a fallacy. Organic farming is not automatically more climate-friendly. In the case of grain, only half of the yields are achieved in organic farming.
It is about many millions of tons of grain that would be missing here and would have to be imported. More organic farming here leads to further price increases on the global grain markets and to expansion of land elsewhere. We can’t be indifferent to what’s happening on a global scale given the scarcity.