Skip to content
Amanda Little

Putin’s Ukraine War Has Three Lessons for Global Food Supplies

Urgent responses from farmers and governments after Russia blockaded grain shipments provide a roadmap to facing future crises as threats to world food networks multiply.

Mapping a more food secure future.

Mapping a more food secure future.

Photographer: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images

When 26,500 tons of corn sailed out of the port of Odesa this week — the first agricultural export from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion — many food security experts breathed a sigh of relief. The news, combined with the falling cost of wheat after global prices had nearly doubled, has investors and policy makers wondering whether the threat of global food shortages is abating.

Not exactly. It’s too soon for unreserved optimism because many of the problems that fueled food inflation even before the Ukraine invasion persist: Energy and agrochemicals prices remain high, making it costly to operate mechanized farms and move food through the supply chain. Scorching weather and drought are decimating farm yields from Waterloo, Canada, to Bangalore and Bordeaux, and climate disruptions are expected to get more varied and extreme.