Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing global hunger and galloping food prices, and future supply-chain disruptions will bring more such misery. Many countries are realizing that they should grow more food, but they’ve sold much of their best land to China, which uses it to feed its own population. A few years ago, China bought nearly one-tenth of Ukraine’s arable farmland. Countries should start screening those seeking to buy their farmland, as they already do with prospective purchasers of sensitive technology.
“There can be no effective solution to the global food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production, as well as the food and fertilizer produced by Russia, into world markets,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on June 24, warning that the world faces multiple famines this year and worse in 2023. But Ukrainian grains and other foods won’t be able to enter the world market any time soon because the sea route remains blocked by Russia. Ukraine is sending some grain to world markets via rail to Poland and Romania, but doing so is laborious and expensive. Before the war, around 90% of Ukraine’s grain was exported via its sea ports.