Food Security

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:00 pm on 31st March 2022.

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Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 3:00 pm, 31st March 2022

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered food security.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for recognising the importance of food security and allowing this debate. A debate on food security was needed before the crisis in Ukraine, and it is even more urgent now. Before I turn to issues of food security in the UK, I want to address the situation in Ukraine, which remains absolutely critical.

Our immediate focus must be on doing everything possible to support the people of Ukraine and address their humanitarian needs. Russia’s brutal war is now into its second month. The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that at least 30% of the Ukrainian population is in dire need of lifesaving food assistance, and early data indicates that 90% of the people remaining in the country could face extreme poverty, should the war deepen even further.

Of course, the humanitarian emergency does not end in Ukraine. We urgently need to get to grips with the real threat of a global food shortage. Russia and Ukraine are ranked among the top three global exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and fertiliser. There were already food shortages in parts of north and east Africa, which sourced almost of all of its imported wheat from those two countries.

Ukraine is also the single biggest supplier of food to the World Food Programme, which might be forced to cut distribution in places such as Yemen, Chad and Niger, while taking on the feeding of millions of hungry people in and around Ukraine. According to WFP officials, all of that points to 2022 being a year of catastrophic hunger. Without urgent funding, the programme’s director predicts a hell on earth in some of the most impoverished regions in the world, potentially resulting in famine and destabilisation in parts of Africa and the middle east, as well as mass migration.

The scale of the crisis cannot be understated, so I am eager to hear any indications at all from the Minister of how the UK Government are preparing for such a global security emergency.