Growing Food Concerns Worldwide

It was only a matter of time before growing anxiety over food supplies and prices across the globe induced action by nation-states and citizens alike. As 2022 motors along, concerns about the health of the global economy, the lingering hangover of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its recent return to China, and the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine have come together to create a perfect storm. Food prices are going through the roof in a number of nations, and it was only a matter of time before citizens took to the streets and protested.

Over the weekend Iran saw a wave of protests break out across the country over cuts in state subsidies on food. To be fair, Iranians already have a laundry list of grievances with their government and economic conditions always serve as a barometer of the population’s feelings. It comes as no surprise to see Iranian citizens come out in large numbers to protest the subsidy cuts, as well as other issues. The swift and brutal response by the Iranian government, however, has raised some eyebrows around the world. Tehran’s readiness to clampdown on and make an example of anti-government protesters is an indication the government expects prices to rise even more in the coming weeks. With the cut of subsidies last week, prices on a number of flour-based food staples rose in excess of 300%

There are also protests and street violence over rising food prices and inflation going on in Sri Lanka and Tajikistan. Those situations will be discussed in more detail later in the week.

Then there is the increasing worry over food supplies. India is moving to take pre-emptive action by restricting exports of wheat to create a safety cushion of sorts for its own population. The Indian government seeks to control rising prices and diminishing output due to global economic conditions and the extreme heat wave that has affected Indian wheat production. Predictably, India’s move has sent global prices skyrocketing and prompted the US and European Union to begin searching for solutions to improve food supply chains. Given the current conditions, Washington and Brussels need to hurry. At the present time, the situation worldwide appears fated to become significantly worse unless measures are taken within weeks.

Ukraine Update 6 March, 2022 (Noon, EST)

  • China’s winter wheat harvest could be the ‘worst in its history’ according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian. Rare heavy rainfall over the winter season prevented or delayed planting for 1/3 of the wheat acreage. China is the world’s largest wheat consumer and now there are legitimate concerns about its grain supplies. The war in Ukraine has already pushed grain prices to a 14 year high. Together, the two nations produce roughly 30% of wheat exports globally. With the terrible harvest, China now has added justification to purchase grain from Russia in the midst of economic sanctions.
  • Discussions between the US and Poland over a transfer of Polish MiG-29s to Ukraine continue. A deal is under consideration which would replace the MiGs Poland sends to Ukraine with US aircraft. An agreement has not been reached yet amid US concerns that the deal will be viewed as an escalatory move.
  • Airpower is on Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s mind following a morning Russian cruise missile attack on Vinnytsia airport in central Ukraine. The dual international airport/Ukrainian airbase was struck by eight cruise missiles and heavily damaged. Zelenskiy released a video address soon afterward. In it he made an impassioned plea for a no fly zone or replacement aircraft to make up for Ukrainian fighter losses. “If you don’t, if you don’t give us at least planes so we can protect ourselves, there’s only one thing to conclude; you want us to be killed very slowly.” His comments certainly indicate Ukraine is losing the war in the air at this point.