In the latest edition of " De cara al mundo" we had the participation of Borja de Arístegui, professor of International Relations and collaborator of Atalayar, who spoke to us about the crisis in food production on the planet.
He has recently debuted in Atalayar with an article entitled "Hunger and crisis", how bad are things?
The forecasts are very negative, all the numbers suggest that this year's harvest will be very poor and that the recent price increases are just the beginning. We must bear in mind that the food price calculations that are being made today are based on the data from last year's harvest. Due to the war, the rise in fertiliser prices and some political decisions by some of the leaders of the global powers, it seems that we are approaching a very dark horizon in the sense of a food crisis.
You are talking about a full-blown geopolitical storm...
That's right, not only are we facing the consequences of Putin's war in Ukraine, but we also have to take into account that this is compounded by a notable economic crisis, inflation that has not been caused by the war itself, but aggravated, and also a financial crisis at least in China that is more serious than that of 2008.
Can we think, as you say, of a change of paradigm at the global level, things will no longer be as they were before?
It seems to me that this is quite clear, given Putin's attempts to try to adapt the international order to his own preferences. A new international order in which they are not entirely comfortable and what we are seeing is a retreat from the liberal order, the different crises that we are going to experience are going to erode that order even further. The problem is that it will not only be the negative consequences of the geopolitical landscape, but it will be felt by all of us and particularly in those countries that are most vulnerable and are still trying to get ahead.
What we still need to do is to analyse food production capacities. As always, it is the poorest who will suffer the most, but we Europeans will also have to reflect on the delocalisation and deindustrialisation of all kinds of sectors, including the food sector. We are now seeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine leaving us without grain and cereals and a global food crisis.
Perhaps what we are experiencing is a reversal of globalisation, we are not talking about a total shortage, but a decriminalisation of supply chains in all kinds of industrial and agri-food products that are going to take place in the coming months. We have had a series of agricultural policies, especially in the developed world, which have worsened this crisis, and many readers will know that in Spain we have a much greater food production capacity than is currently the case. This is the case in other countries such as France, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland or Canada, but, for example, the latest decision of the Canadian Prime Minister to cut the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers by 30% as part of the fight against climate change will only aggravate this food crisis. Keep in mind that the lower the food supply, the higher the food prices and the more people will suffer as a result. The problem is that we have reached a total global population of 8 billion people and to feed all those people you need that fertiliser use that some governments are trying to cut back on, if we don't use that fertiliser a lot of the land that is in cultivation today will not be able to grow crops because that land will not be able to grow crops without the use of that fertiliser. As a result, it will further aggravate the crisis and reduce the food supply.
China seems to be in a better position here...
It can be said that China has done its homework, it has considerable food reserves, 70% of rice reserves, 70% of wheat reserves and 70% of global maize reserves. According to some geo-political commentators, it seems that many of these food reserves have been spoiled, which is leading Xi Jinping's government to panic, and that is why they are entering the markets to buy food left and right. China seems to be experiencing problems, not only on a food basis, but could also be on the verge of suffering one of the worst financial crises in living memory.
Finally, you propose that countries such as Spain, France, Bulgaria, Romania and Canada should start growing crops. Do we need to start thinking that we need to start planting again in leaps and bounds?
That's right, in a scenario of food crisis, I think it would be unforgivable if countries that do have the capacity to increase their production did not do so, and that is the case of our country. There are countries such as Spain, France, Bulgaria, Romania and Canada that could increase their production and help out at one of the most complicated times.