Food Security in the Face of Conflict

A sorghum field in Kenya

The war in Ukraine has shown the global community why food independence and security are crucial. The conflict– among other factors including climate change and inflation– has exacerbated the growing concern of increased hunger, increasing food prices and food shortages. Coined as the world’s “bread basket,” Ukraine and Russia exports large quantities of wheat across the world. Between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported 44 percent of its wheat from these two countries, making it extremely vulnerable to unfortunate current events.  

The United Nations issued a report demonstrating its deep concerns about potential famine across specifically the horn of Africa if Russia does not allow wheat to exit Ukrainian ports. “Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse. Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm — and now we’ve got the war in Ukraine piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley warned earlier this previous May.  

A green gram field in Kenya.

The World Food Program applies Import Dependency Ratios to measure the extent to which countries rely on imported goods. Kenya’s wheat Import Dependency ratio is evaluated at 85.1 for 2021, indicating that almost all of their wheat supply came from imports rather than local production. Thirty six percent of this supply comes exclusively from Russia and Ukraine, totaling a value of $400 million USD.  Therefore, even minor supply chain disruptions can be catastrophic for those who depend on wheat as a staple in their diets to meet daily caloric intake requirements.  

Local Supply for Increased Food Security

The SL-3 multi-crop thresher being used to process recently harvested sorghum

Reducing dependence on foreign imports and transitioning diets to include more native crops are vital strategies in increasing food independence and security. That is why Bountifield is committed to the development of postharvest markets, specifically for local, nutrient dense crops such as cassava, millet, and sorghum to reduce dependency on food imports. With access to mechanized tools to process and preserve staple crops, rural communities increase the quantity and quality of food available. This strengthens the local food supply, and improves accessibility to a consistent, nutritious diet.