A first grain freighter left the Ukrainian port of Odessa on Monday after crucial food exports out of the country had stalled for months due to the Russian war in the country. Because it is a major exporter of grain and sunflower products, Ukraine's contribution has been sorely missed in world markets where sky-high prices and delivery bottlenecks have stoked fears of economic recession and even famine in some parts of the world.
But missing Ukrainian goods are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to global food markets plunging into disarray. As a result of the crisis, several countries including Russia have in turn stopped the export of some food items and fertilizer products to protect their own supply, causing a wider ripple effect for global food supply.
According to the Food & Fertilizer Export Restrictions Tracker by the International Food Policy Research Institute, 20 countries in the world are currently banning the export of 30 food products, while another six have placed heavy restrictions on certain exports. The effects are felt most in poorer countries – many in Africa and the Middle East – which are typically those that depend on food imports. Kazakhstan, also a major grain producer, is among those applying a very protectionist strategy in response to the crisis, affecting countries in Central Asia heavily. Northern African countries and nations on the Caucasus also suffer from urgent food import insecurity as many had been dependent on Russian and Ukrainian grain as well as world markets in general.
Some countries – for example India, Iran or Turkey – can be found on both ends of the equation, restricting exports while being affected by exports ban elsewhere to a significant degree as well.