The rapid inflation in the cost of fertilisers as a result of the Ukraine war could see as many as one million additional people die of hunger-related deaths, a report has claimed.
A study undertaken by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Rutgers University has found that up to one million more people could die as a result of hunger as a result of increased worldwide fertiliser prices.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year kicked off a considerable supply chain crisis for both grains and fertilisers, with shortages in both areas prompting fears that many vulnerable nations could be pushed into famine.
However, while it was reportedly expected that the sudden absence of Ukrainian grain from the world market would cause the most amount of chaos — with the eastern European nation being traditionally responsible for a sizable share of the world’s grain supply — researchers have now found that it is the increased cost of fertiliser that is putting more people at risk.
According to the results of their study, around 100 million people could be put at risk of hunger should fertiliser prices continue to rise, with such additives being necessary for the supply of large yields in modern farming. The modelling predicted that on average, food prices may rise by as much as 81 per cent this year compared to 2021 levels.
The researchers say that such price rises are also likely to coincide with up to one million extra deaths worldwide from people not having enough to eat as food gets more expensive.
While the researchers acknowledge that such price increases will hit people all across the world, it warns that the world’s poorest are at the greatest risk of suffering, with the majority of extra deaths expected to be in Africa and the Middle East.
What’s more, modelling indicates that should trends continue, a lack of fertiliser would mean that additional farmland equivalent to the area of Western Europe will be needed to keep everyone across the world fed by 2030.
“This could be the end of an era of cheap food,” Dr Peter Alexander of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences warned. “While almost everyone will feel the effects of that on their weekly shop, it’s the poorest people in society, who may already struggle to afford enough healthy food, who will be hit hardest.”