Hunger and political instability

Even before Russia began the massive invasion of Ukraine, 2022 was shaping up to be a year of sky-high food prices, shortages, and widespread starvation in many areas of the globe. Now, Ukraine is experiencing a tremendous humanitarian catastrophe, with the war’s consequences resonating throughout the world. This year, there will likely be insufficient food to feed the entire planet.
According to the UN’s World Food Programme, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, with a significant risk of famine in portions of the Middle East and Africa. Wheat, corn, barley, rye, sunflower seeds, and other crops were key exports from Russia and Ukraine. Around 30% of the world wheat trade was provided by these two countries, as it takes months to cultivate and harvest grains, and the loss of some of these crops cannot be made up fast. This issue is more difficult to correct than the oil supply crisis in many ways. While oil prices have dropped, wheat prices remain at record highs making it less affordable for poor consumers in several regions of the world in the next few months.
Food costs will rise even more in wealthy countries like the United States, Australia, and much of the European Union, economically overburdening lower-income people who are already marred by inflation. Food crises are further deepening in third world countries that do not have the money to pay for a double-digit surge in food costs, there will be a true risk of starvation and famine in many areas of the developing globe. Fifty countries are at a high risk of facing food insecurity, many of which are among the poorest in North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East rely on Russia and Ukraine for more than 30% of their wheat.
The worst solution to the food crisis would be for affluent countries to suspend or severely restrict key crop exports. It is natural to hoard all available goods in difficult times, yet this exacerbates hunger in underdeveloped countries. During the Great Recession of 2008, dozens of nations drastically restricted the export of key crops, resulting in food riots from Egypt to Haiti. Wheat, flour, and beans have already been outlawed in Egypt. Meanwhile, China has been secretly acquiring supplies from the international market.
Increased financial contribution to the World Food Program and similar efforts would be a preferable option for the US and its allies. These organisations are well-connected to numerous suppliers and respond rapidly to local demands. During this food crisis, it would also be beneficial if the US repealed or at least temporarily waived the renewable fuel mandate, which diverts large volumes of corn, sorghum, and barley to ethanol production.
The global food problem will not be solved soon, but wealthy countries may take steps to prevent widespread hunger and its instability. Whereas the situation is even more intense for Pakistan, owing to the government’s bad governance, unfair subsidy policies and the current political crisis that might push the country towards ‘huger riots’. Being a third-world country and under the pressure of global inflation, the situation has worsened for Pakistan. Inflation in Pakistan is predicted to reach 15% by the summer. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation is also reporting record-high food costs through its Food Price Index, which presently stands at 159—the highest since 1990—food prices in Pakistan will continue to rise. Already, the country is seeing double-digit inflation. In March, food prices rose from 14.5 to 15.5 percent, prompting experts to warn of an impending threat to food security.
In the wake of a variety of factors contributing to food insecurity in Pakistan. The government carries a significant amount of responsibility for failing to tackle the food shortage issue. The Pakistan Agricultural Research Council’s Syed Fakhar Imam criticised the government’s agricultural management, overemphasising on wheat, inefficient fertiliser and irrigation systems, insufficient infrastructure in the western regions, and a lack of new knowledge development. Unfair subsidy programs that favor producers excessively all the while disadvantaging consumers, is partly to blame along with uneven land allocation which contributes to food insecurity.
A widening poverty gap is dividing society as the wealthy become wealthier, but the number of hungry rag pickers grows. This goes against the state’s obligation to promote the people’s social and economic well-being as stated in Article 38 of the Pakistani Constitution which specifically mentions food equity. What must be understood is that food insecurity is not just about poverty or farming. It also has a variety of humanitarian, socio-economic, environmental, political, and security implications that may jeopardise the national security of the country.
Pakistan has also ratified several international human rights treaties that recognise the right to food, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. As a result, the state has a legal obligation to preserve its inhabitants’ right to food and secure their food security under national and international law.
The only solutions are land or agricultural modifications and international conferences addressing global food prices. It is founded on a significant shift in thought as well as the implementation of the rule of law and democracy, which strengthens the people. Because the causes of food insecurity are systemic, the solutions must, likewise, be structural. Food security is intrinsically tied to justice, the rule of law, and improved political circumstances.

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