Last year, many experts were predicting severe global food shortages. In November 2020, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported that 690 million people were undernourished and 130 million additional people risked being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of the year. But these dire predictions were exacerbated even further by the pandemic.
“Ironically, there will be record yields for many grains this year, but the disruptions in the supply chain caused by the pandemic as well as the global climate crisis and increasing conflict in several countries is leading to a hunger pandemic as well,” Danielle Nierenberg, President and Founder of Food Tank, told IPS.
Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President & CEO, gave a similar message in an interview with IPS .
“We’re hearing the same refrain all around the world,” Maxman said. “Families are very worried as they are forced to make impossible decisions – do they risk catching the disease as they go out to earn money to buy food? Or stay home and watch their children go hungry?”
One of the challenges facing the global food market is the closing of borders due to the pandemic. Other shortages threaten the intricate web of food delivery. CNN recently reportedthat up to 25% of oil trucks are not moving because of a lack of qualified drivers which has translated into shortages of fuel at some gas stations. Modern agriculture is gasoline intensive, relying on heavy machinery.
These dire predictions were put in an even dimmer light by Gro Intelligence founder and chief executive Sara Menker who noted that previous calculations, such as the ones put out by the UN, focused on mass and weight and not nutritional value. According to her nutritional value-based calculations,next year, the year 2023, will be the crossover point when we will no longer be able to produce enough food to feed a growing population. She has estimated that by 2027, there could be a 214 trillion calorie deficit. At that point, China, India, and Africa will make up more than half of the global population and will need to import food. But according to her calculations, even if all the surplus produce from countries in Europe, North and South America was solely exported to those three hotspots, it would not suffice.