A study by Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, has shown that about 45 countries around the world are severely exposed to the Ukraine war-induced food crisis.
BCG, in a report titled, ‘The war in Ukraine and the rush to feed the world’, said it explored in detail the multiple direct and indirect impacts of the turmoil in Ukraine on global food systems.
The BCG report, co-authored with Food Systems for the Future, also provided 30 near- and medium-term solutions to help respond to the crisis and improve the resilience of global food systems.
It said the affected countries, which were concentrated in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, were hotspots around the world as they endured some of the worst effects of the crisis.
According to the BCG report, Nigeria and the other affected countries faced severe levels of extreme poverty, compounded by the ongoing economic and social challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional factors worsening the food crisis identified in the report included: heavy reliance on food imports, high import bills, high inflation, a high debt burden, climate risks, and civil unrest.
An estimated 1.7 billion people—most of them in developing economies—could suffer severely increased food insecurity, higher energy prices, or greater debt burdens, according to the UN Task Team for the Global Crisis Response Group.
It stated that each of these individual factors adversely affected people’s ability to feed themselves.
“At the same time, there is a critical need to address them more holistically and across all sectors in order to reshape our food systems so that we can counteract this humanitarian crisis—and future ones,” it sated
The Managing Director and Partner at BCG Nigeria, Stefano Niavas, while commenting on the findings, said, “The impact of the Ukraine war on our food systems calls for critical and immediate review of our budgetary allocation.
“Currently, Nigeria spends over 27 times of its agriculture allocation to service its debt. Compounded with the Ukraine war and the lingering challenges of COVID-19, the average debt-to-GDP ratio across the continent is expected to rise from 60 per cent to 70 per cent.
“To minimise the impact of the crisis on Nigeria’s food systems, the government and all critical stakeholders should ensure stabilising the rising cost of food and fertilizer by the provision of viable seedlings, supporting the growth of alternative nutritious grains, driving the adoption of innovative farm practices. The introduction of alternative sources of fertilizer will help reduce the country’s reliance on food imports.”