Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has propelled global shortages for food and fertilizer, which have raised prices considerably for consumers across the world, according to Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In response, President Joe Biden late last week asked Congress to supply Ukraine with an additional $33 billion aid package—with $3 billion of that focusing on humanitarian assistance and food security funding.
“It is just another catastrophic effect of Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Power told ABC News’ “This Week" over the past weekend, adding that food prices have surged more than 30 percent compared to this time last year. “We've gone to Congress asking for a substantial increase in humanitarian assistance … in order to be able to meet those needs,” Power said. “But we're also active, of course, in more than eighty countries around the world. … We're working with farmers to also increase their production so that you actually have more supply brought on market.”
Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, added that Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East are estimated to rely on upward of 80 percent to 90 percent of wheat and grain imports from Ukraine and Russia.
“We really do need this financial support from the Congress to be able to meet emergency food needs … so we don't see the cascading deadly effects of Russia's war extend into Africa and beyond,” she said. “There is also growing demand for fertilizer from farmers seeking to protect their crops. “Fertilizer shortages are real now because Russia is a big exporter of fertilizer,” Power continued. “And even though fertilizer is not sanctioned, less fertilizer is coming out of Russia.”
Here in the United States, inflation-weary Americans received more bad news recently when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released an update to its Food Price Outlook for 2022, which revealed that “all food prices are now predicted to increase between 4.5 and 5.5 percent.” Those figures are on top of a nearly 8 percent climb witnessed over the past year.
Power, however, pushed back on the notion that the currently seen high food prices are due to the Biden administration’s sanctions on Russia. Instead, it is the result of Russia’s “unwillingness now to come to the negotiating table,” she claimed. “That is what is causing these cascading effects, so we want to meet those effects, but continue to ensure that that pressure is put on the Russian Federation through economic sanctions and through the security assistance so that they finally negotiate a peace,” she added.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.