SPCIS 2021 mid-year work panel meeting
On Jul 1, 2021, SPCIS held the mid-2021 working meeting, in which the representatives of each group members reported the relevant work in the first half of 2021 and made specific arrangements for the next work.
The webinar titled, “Impact of Russia-Ukraine Conflict on Food Security in Southeast Asia” was organized by ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute of Singapore under its Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme Seminar series. Dr Ali Imran participated and represented Saint Pierre Center for International Security (SPCIS).
The well-attended webinar was addressed by Professor Paul Teng is Adjunct Senior Fellow, Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore and Genevieve Donnellon-May of University of Oxford, England. Professor Teng said that the global ripple effect from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and subsequent economic sanctions imposed on Russia have led to soaring energy prices and geopolitical tensions.
He said the conflict has exacerbated yet another global existential threat: food insecurity. Together, Russia and Ukraine contribute a significant proportion of the world’s grain and fertiliser exports, of which Asia is a major buyer. These commodities have already leapt up to 40% in price due to shipping disruptions, while the upcoming crop planting season remains uncertain.
Professor Teng said, Southeast Asia is already feeling the pinch—livestock industries short on animal feed, beloved Indomie noodles disappearing from shelves, and crop commodities yielding lower profit margins.
By representing the immediate effects from Ukraine crisis Ms Genevieve Donnellon-May said food prices could increase by 37%. There is a possibility that fertilizers prices will increase. It will create supply chain disruptions which will be the case of increased humanitarian needs and reduction in agricultural productions. She said it would undercut the purchasing power of the local population, consequent increase in food insecurity and malnutrition. Donnellon-May said it is possible that the conflict will result in additional upward pressure on international food commodity prices.
Professor Teng said it is clear that the world is divided into Food Exporters Versus Food Importers and Asia and Africa are food deficit regions. While talking on Southeast Asia, he said agricultural land has been declining, as has employment in agriculture and the contribution of agriculture to total GDP of the region. He said imports and trade are important to sustain food supplies and provide resilience for the ASEAN region and food security is not affected by dependency on food imports (under ‘normal’ circumstances).
Talking on the future forward, Professor Teng emphasized that we need to find alternative sources to import and increase self-production. He said Russia-Ukraine conflict will rise in food nationalism and food protectionism. He suggested that it is time for countries/government may need to rethink food security.