Wheat supply chains, fertilizer exports, and other food system components will be disrupted as a result of the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia. In combination with other factors, they have the potential to unleash a significant food security crisis.

The confrontation between Russia and Ukraine will severely affect global wheat supplies and food security. Agricultural research investments are essential for building resilient food systems and ensuring a stable food supply in the coming future.

Russia and Ukraine are major actors in the global trade of food and agricultural products. Russia and Ukraine exported about 32% of the worldwide wheat market in 2021. Russia’s worldwide maize export market share has been small, at 3%. 

On the other hand, Ukraine’s maize export share is higher, averaging 17% and making it the world’s fourth-largest maize exporter. Exports of sunflower oil from both countries accounted for 55 percent of global supplies. Russia is also a major fertilizer exporter. It was the leading exporter of nitrogen fertilizers in 2020. It is also the second-largest potassium provider and the third-largest exporter of phosphorus.

Grain shipments from Ukraine and Russia are likely to suffer immediate consequences due to the current crisis. Most wheat and barley crops are harvested in the summer and sent out in autumn. The majority of wheat, barley, and sunflower seed exports, on the other hand, are done by February. Maize exports from Ukraine are normally high in the spring and early summer.

The majority of grain leaves through the Black Sea ports, distant from the occupied areas in the east. However, disruptions are becoming common as a result of Russia’s recent military actions. Military actions could have short- and long-term ramifications for Ukraine’s ability to move crop production within and beyond its boundaries. This is particularly the case if port facilities and railroads are damaged as a result of Russia’s military operations.

Low or no exports result from Ukraine’s reduced food output. Ukrainians may begin stockpiling food to survive. Or they may seek to profit from the situation.

Russia might possibly react by restricting food supplies in response to the harsh economic sanctions imposed on it. In 2010, Putin banned the export of grains after a drought hit the country.

Overall, the Russia-Ukraine war impacts food supply everywhere, in conflict zones due to decreased food production and elsewhere due to the decline in the export of essential staple food items.