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Dismal news is emerging that war and serious climate change are pushing the world gradually to food shortages. Rise in food prices last year compared to 2021 has put the common people in misery in many countries. The fall in production and distribution came as a blow on the people. Most countries are resorting to the exercise of export control and reduction of consumption. International agencies, including the World Bank, had already warned about the world moving to starvation in the new situation. On top of this comes the severe scarcity of vegetables. If until now only those below poverty line have been bearing the brunt of this burden, new studies show that the scarcity of vegetables will upset the dietary habits of people and cause overall malnutrition. Vegetable scarcity which had begun with Ukraine war acquired greater intensity with the severe flood in Pakistan, blizzards in Central Asia and the untimely drought in African and European countries. With the war in Ukraine and the embargo of Russia - the fourth of the world's wheat that used to come from Ukraine - suddenly ceased. When Russia made persistent attacks on Ukrainian ports, goods movement switched to the Bosphorus route. Under the initiative of the US, moves were made to bypass the Russian embargo, making cargo movement using the railway channel that connects eastern Europe with the rest of the world and using large barges along the Danube river. As a result, there was some relief from the huge price rise in wheat and other food grains. But with that consolation came the skyrocketing of the prices of onion, carrot, tomato, potato and , chilli.

Global market tells us that it is onion that makes the world weep. In the East of Philippines where onion is an essential ingredient of food, its prices are skyhigh. Last year, the hurricane caused the destruction of billion of pesos worth of onion. And in the last four months alone, onion prices rose from 70 pesos per kg to to 700 pesos. The phenomenal rise in onion price is the main talking point from Kazakhstan to Turkey. . If the flood of Pakistan affected south Asia, flood and cyclones were the cause of disaster to Morocco. Unexpected drought in European land blocked the crop supply of the world in general. The Netherlands which is the largest exporter of onion is in severe drought. European countries Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, Rumania, Hungary, Luxembourg, Ukraine, Moldova, Ireland and Britain are facing the most severe drought of the last 500 years. Since the largest rivers of Europe – the Danube, Rio, and Po are all drying up, the major trading routes in water remain blocked.

If this is the story of Europe, in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgystan the threat is from avalanches. Massive volumes of onion were rendered useless in these regions. . In Turkiye, adding to the prices was the earthquake which further upset matters. Though most of the countries banned exports, the scarcity of produce is so acute that they export ban alone will not results. In Britain, supply of tomatoes and cucumber have come under ration of just two pieces per customer. Compared to the previous years, in 2022 there was a huge fall in food grain production. Studies have already come out saying that if vegetable shortages continue at this rate, the world is heading to grave malnutrition. And that in turn will lead to growth retardation in children and anemia during pregnancy among women. The survey report published by the World Bank last month says that 42 percent of the people in world's nations do not get healthy and nutritious food. The increase of public debt, currency depreciation, high inflation and rising interest rates all combine to push the world to deep recession. It is when these maladies threaten the world, that food scarcity is adding to it.

When the reason of this is the war man wages against man and nature, a major part of the solution also lies in our hands. The first step is to end the Ukraine War. Then, if boundaries of decency are set for the exploitation of nature which causes climate change and to exercise self restraint, the earth will once again become fertile and resourceful, and its inhabitants prosperous. Are we ready, at least in this phase of scarcity, tale a vow to make amends for the failure to sow seeds of plants during plenty? If not, onion will sink this world in the sea of tears.

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TAGS:Food scarcity food grains and vegetables Ukraine war and embargo transportation disruptions World Bank report malnutrition 
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