24.06.2023 Author: Veniamin Popov

The West is responsible for the fact that one out of ten people in the world suffer from hunger

hungry man

Several years ago, the UN adopted its Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is the eradication of hunger globally by 2030.

Humanity is making giant steps towards the creation of artificial intelligence, which, in theory, should make life easier for people all over the world. But at the same time, we still have a situation in which more than 800 million people in different parts of the world suffer from chronic undernourishment. What is more, in the last few years the number of people suffering from hunger has increased.

Many articles have been written and much research has been done concerning the main causes of this problem: climate change, conflicts, and increasingly harsh weather conditions. In addition to these worrying tendencies, land is becoming less affordable, soil is being degraded and we are losing biodiversity. All these factors are obstructing our transition to a more sustainable form of agriculture that can feed the world adequately.

Currently, with a global population of eight billion, almost one in eight people suffer from chronic hunger. It is now clear that the Sustainable Development Goal will not be achieved by the specified deadline, which is 2030. Even António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, admitted this when he spoke at the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021.

The data shows that currently the world produces enough food to feed everyone.

But there remains the fact that more than three billion people do not have access to a proper diet. This problem is particularly serious in the tropical countries of Africa and South Asia and in some countries in Latin America. The main issue is not merely that people in underdeveloped countries are subsisting on low-calorie diets – it is primarily a matter of malnutrition – a lack of the required amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins necessary to lead a healthy life and develop properly, and this results in increased levels of sickness and mortality.

Up until the Second World War, many countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa were net exporters of grain. In fact, grain, alongside cotton, sugar and coffee, was one of their most important exports.

After the Second World War, the situation changed and the majority of developing countries started importing food, especially wheat.

The dependence of developing nations for food imports is primarily due to the policies followed by the West. The colonial powers had a policy of importing cheap grain and other produce from the territories they controlled, even when those areas were suffering from serious shortages of food. Significantly, despite the fact that colonial-era India frequently suffered from outbreaks of famine, at the beginning of the 20th century approximately a million tons of wheat a year, or 20-35% of the entire harvest, were shipped out of Karachi alone. The colonial authorities failed to take any effective measures to prevent famine, even when the situation was critical. Newly-independent states, on the other hand, were able to import food from abroad in such circumstances.

Britain’s vast empire represented a literally inexhaustible source of wealth for Britain’s ruling classes, and Britain’s economic and social development was largely financed by the ruthless exploitation of its subject territories. London has never officially apologized for many of its crimes, let alone paid any compensation.

Today the problem of food supply in developing countries has taken on a more dramatic, and even catastrophic character. Food shortages have frequently been exacerbated by the general lack of development and poverty of countries in the South, many of which have been exploited by the Western powers. As a result, agricultural production has fallen far behind demand.

Whatever the technical explanations given by “experts” for the food shortages in developing countries, it is clear that the root cause of the problem is howling inequality: the per capita income in many developing countries is several times lower than that in more developed countries.

The West is still robbing developing nations, but now it is using more sophisticated machinations to do so.

The so-called “grain deal” concluded between the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine to allow the transportation of grain from the Black Sea provided a clear example of this. Despite the deal, the West mounted a loud campaign accusing Russia of preventing the delivery of food to the poorest countries in the world, and EU politicians were particularly vocal about the urgent need to provide food to those countries most in need, as a matter of priority.

In reality, although the grain export corridors set up under the agreement were primarily intended as a mechanism to meet the needs of the global South, in reality it turned out that only 3% of the wheat supplies went to developing countries, and the rest to EU countries. (It is no secret that the EU is dependent on imported animal feed crops. According to studies conducted by European Parliament researchers, the EU typically accounts for more than 50% of Ukraine’s exports of maize, a major feed crop).

Russia has conscientiously and consistently fulfilled its obligations, and as part of its initiative to donate Russian-made mineral fertilizers to countries in need its second consignment of 34,000 tons arrived in the Kenyan port of Mombasa on May 29 this year. Back in September 2022 Moscow announced that it was ready to transfer, free of charge, about 300,000 tons of Russian-made products that were “stuck” in ports of Latvia, Estonia, Belgium and the Netherlands to countries facing the threat of famine. In that case “stuck” actually means that they had been blocked by the local authorities and governments on various pretexts such as the enforcement of sanctions etc.

The next shipment, also of 34,000 tons, will be to Nigeria. In view of the facts outlined above, the self-serving and dishonest claims by Western politicians about global food security and the threat of famine seem absurd, especially since these claims are only heard in relation to the export of Ukrainian forage and feed maize.

No only does very little of the Ukrainian cargo (about 772,000 thousand tons out of a total of 31 million tons, or less than 2.5%) actually go to the countries that are really in need, but what is more the Americans, Europeans and Ukrainians keep blocking the supplies of grain fertilizers, openly speculating on prices and benefitting from the shortages of these key products on world markets.

In other words, the European Union is continuing to profit from the situation, lining its pockets at the expense of the most vulnerable states, while at the same time exacerbating the risks to global food security through its actions. This whole story clearly shows that it is the West that is threatening international food security by setting artificial goals and objectives, and then attempting to shift the responsibility for its dishonest schemes onto others.

The Western powers, with their colonial policies, have created the problem of hunger on our planet. Yet they continue to blame Russia for threatening food security, even though the Russian president has repeatedly insisted that Russia is ready to send food to the countries most in need for free. Vladimir Putin has also promised to provide full support to the supply of countries in the southern hemisphere with mineral fertilizer.

These days, the problem of the gap between the rich and the poor, between the developing countries and the West is fast becoming the key question of the progressive economic development.


Veniamin Popov, Director of the Center for the Partnership of Civilizations at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Candidate of Historical Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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