The UN Special Advocate Queen Maxima of the Netherlands has sounded an alarm about food and energy prices, which may lead to instability in several regions.
The World Bank’s Commodity Markets Outlook report that energy prices for this year are expected to spike by 50%. Meanwhile, the price of wheat would increase by 40% or more.
“An increase of food prices of the magnitude that we’re seeing, of energy prices, basically will mean that a lot of families are going to have from three or two meals a day to have one meal a day. And this in turn, will actually give, probably, will be the source of even more instability in other regions. So that worries me a lot,” Maxima said in an interview.
“We’re going to be seeing now because of inflation, but we’re going to be seeing also in the next year, because when you don’t have fertilizers, you cannot increase your yield. So therefore, you’re going to see less produce coming out from Africa, which actually feeds each other there. So, you’re going to have less food, so the prices are even probably going to go up by even more, so very worrying,” she added.
What adds to the problem, says Maxima, is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine – countries that are major sources for imports of many countries across the globe. The banning of exportation from these countries is what led to the increase in prices of commodities.
“Well, sadly the concern is not only the conflict in and by itself, but in my role in financial inclusion for development, which is I want to reduce poverty, I want more girls to go to school, I want more people to have better futures.”
Maxima told reporters that the pandemic is what triggered the crisis first, but there are also positive effects of digitalization on citizens.
“A lot of governments when the pandemic and the lockdown started, thought … this is the way for us to send money to the poorest and the most vulnerable people, that had to stay locked down, they couldn’t go to the markets and sell their produce, and this was a very important issue,” Maxima said.
“So many, many countries have increased this, I would say, government-to-people payments in these two years, and they’ve actually discovered this financial inclusion tool to actually do a lot more other goals that they’re trying to attain.”
With the increasing rates of consumption, there are serious concerns about how global supplies will meet demand in the coming years. The crisis may be looming over countries; that is why Maxima reminds governments to prepare for possible severe food shortages and take steps to address the issue.