In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s book ‘Strongmen’ she says geopolitics is when authoritarian regimes have a …. conception of the state as an organic entity with the right to defend itself from threats to its safety and the right to expand into foreign territory to secure the resources it needs.
Here we are in 2022, watching the world’s leaders scramble to do deals for their nations. Deals to pay oligarchs instead of once state owned resources for finite supplies of oil, gas, rare metals, wheat…..the list goes on, now are shifting to negotiations with other suppliers. Resources are now weaponised. The losers are always at the bottom of the pyramid.
Russia is the largest supplier of fertiliser in the world and shares being a major supplier of wheat with its neighbour, Ukraine.
The crippling situation in Ukraine has resulted in massive trade restrictions on top of disruptions in supply chains globally due to the ongoing Covid pandemic. Countries like Brazil are dependent on Russia for supplying fertiliser for their food security plans. Thousands are suffering famine due to continuing conflicts as countries such as Yemen, Sudan will not get vital wheat supplies, turning their situation more critical than it now is.
I have written about the harmful aspects of the fertiliser industry. Historically, land is grabbed to expand what was once individual plots for local farmers to create huge areas for industrial farming.
Britain’s land use has adapted over the centuries as war and conflict changed the ownership and farming practices. Arable farming is now a science, often discarding good understanding of retaining soil and allowing it to rest and restore its health after use. The Soil Association tries to encourage good practice but it is an uphill struggle against industrial heavyweights who promote harmful products to ‘improve soil and produce’.
Here are the ten countries who had the most arable land in 2016:
Here are the 10 countries with the most arable land:
- India (156,463,000 hectares)
- United States (152,262,500 hectares)
- Russia (123,121,820 hectares)
- China (118,900,000 hectares)
- Brazil (80,976,000 hectares)
- Australia (46,048,000 hectares)
- Canada (43,766,000 hectares)
- Argentina (39,200,000 hectares)
- Nigeria (34,000,000 hectares)
- Ukraine (32,776,000 hectares)
According to the FAO, in the year 2013, the world’s arable land amounted to 1,407 million hectares, or about 5.4 million square miles. Arable land worldwide has decreased by nearly one-third since 1961, because of re-forestation, soil erosion, and desertification caused by global climate change.
The United Nations FAO reminds us of the increasingly worrying world food security situation impacted by climate change and conflict over fewer resources. See their charts where they say
The FAO Food Price Index makes a giant leap to another all-time high in March (Release date: 08/04/2022)
Read more about arable land left toxic where toxic weapons have been used.
Our Parliament in the UK saw this tabled in 2018
TOXIC CONTAMINATION OF WAR ZONES
EDM (Early Day Motion)1329: tabled on 04 June 2018
That this House recognises the problem of toxic contamination of war zones, particularly in Iraq; notes the research presented, in March 2018, by Dr Mozhgan Savabieasfahani at the European Environment Foundation; expresses concern at reports of uranium and thorium contamination in the tissues of children living near the US military base in the ancient city of Ur, with those children being seven times more likely to have birth defects; further notes a 2015 resolution by the American Public Health Association stating that parties involved in military activities have a post-conflict responsibility to decontaminate polluted areas; and calls on the Government to work with the US Administration on action to clean up areas polluted by the allied military forces and assist the Iraqi people with remedial health care.
And now we can read of environmental harm as it happens in Ukraine, a country renowned as tenth in the top ten list of countries with a high farming output across its 32,776,000 hectares of arable land. Look how optimistic Ukraine was about projected wheat harvests for 2019 here.
This paragraph is from the Emerging Europe website:
Ukraine’s favourable geographical location; it’s extremely fertile black soil; decent infrastructure and relatively cheap labour force make the country’s agribusiness sector highly competitive. A lot has been achieved in the country over the past 25 years to enable Ukraine to live up to its status as the “breadbasket of Europe” and to help, at least partly, address the global challenge of sustainable food supply and food security.
Why are supplies of sunflower oil running low in some countries?
About 80 per cent of sunflower oil exports come from Ukraine and Russia. Exports from Ukraine have fallen 95 per cent due to Russia’s attack, Ievgen Osypov at trading company Kernel told Bloomberg TV on 5 April. Russia is still exporting the oil, but has said it will impose a quota from 15 April.
This was written in 2020:
“With the flood of grain coming off the fields, Ukraine’s silos will start bursting at their welds next month. Ukraine’s privately run farms are doing fine. Ukraine’s privately run ports are doing fine. In between, the creaking state railroad creates a big bottleneck between the farm gate and the port gate. The solution is to allow private locomotives on state tracks — a practice followed by all of Ukraine’s EU neighbours. In addition, cargo rates have to be raised to regional levels. At present, several well-known oligarchs are beggaring the public railroad for private gain,” UBN editor Jim Brooke said in a note.
The likely replacement for sunflower oil will be the infamous palm oil from plantations which do such great ecological harm.
Brazil and Argentina will be growing their own wheat to feed livestock, destroying the Rainforest in order to supply burgers and beef to meet high demand. No wheat will be arriving from Ukraine any time soon.
Reducing the emphasis on meat eating and improving farming practices would free up produce to feed the world without much effort.
We must rethink how we use the food we grow, how we use the land to provide uncontaminated crops, how we make each plot of land sacred and tied to our human survival.