How does the war in Ukraine affect world wheat supply?

Published on
April 25, 2022

De Groene Amsterdammer recently published an article discussing how the war in Ukraine affects the world wheat market. Russia and Ukraine are responsible for 30 % of the wheat export. Despite this large number, the export accounts for less than 1 % of the world wheat production. However, some countries, mainly in North and East Africa are for a large part dependent on the wheat import from the region of the Black Sea. Egypt imports for instance 85 % of its’ grain from this region.

Martin van Ittersum, professor at our chair group, commented that it will be essential to improve the food supply within the region, so that countries will become less dependent on food import. To do that, yields on existing cropping land should be increased. van Ittersum expects that globally we should be able to reach half of what could potentially be produced without irrigation. (See the yield gap atlas for more details on current and potential yield levels). An essential ingredient to close the yield gap is the use of artificial fertilizers. However, the supply of artificial fertilizer became problematic because of the war. Potassium is mainly produced in Belarus, but that country stopped the export of it. Nitrogen is very much energy dependent and because of the war the price of it increased a lot. Hence, also in this way the war affects food production.

The full article was published and Dutch and can be found here.