Peru remains in suspense after the arrival of a possible food crisis. For the British magazine The Economist, the eventual food shortage would respond to the insufficiency of fertilizers to meet the high demand, a problem that has been dragging on since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now due to the invasion of Russia to Ukraine.
The war conflict has harmed the marketing of food products and has caused the rise in the price of fuel and fertilizers, which has severely impacted the Peruvian economy and therefore the pockets of households.
How many Peruvians could be affected by the food crisis?
The threat of a food catastrophe could have even more drastic consequences in Peru. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it was calculated that at least 15.5 million of the almost 33 million Peruvians could be severely affected.
However, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) by 2021, approximately 18 million Peruvians would be the most affected by a possible food crisis, since they are in a situation of poverty and vulnerability.
Along these lines, Carolina Trivelli, advisor to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), explained that the problem in the country is not that there is a shortage of food as such, but that there are people who cannot access to the food they need due to factors such as conditions of poverty, characteristics of the labor market and the way in which food is being distributed.
“That is what should be worrying us, not only understanding the causes, but how to help the most vulnerable people to access the minimum food consumption. This is a serious problem that affects Peruvian society and we must all help from where we have to. We need definite action”he pointed out in an interview with RPP.
Has the food crisis already reached Peru?
Carolina Trivelli pointed out that the food crisis is already affecting Peru and “It’s been brewing for years”; however, it has been aggravated by the pandemic and the increase in world prices due to inflation.
In addition, he warned that this crisis “It will take several more months and could even last until next year”. The specialist pointed out that to this is added the problems for access to fertilizers that could cause problems in food production in Peru and in other countries is affected.
“The price and access to food will continue to be a problem. So, today it is no longer simply a momentary crisis, it is a crisis that is going to accompany a good time and that is increasingly affecting many people, but above all it affects those who are in a situation of greater vulnerability “he indicated.
However, some authorities have spoken out saying that the country would not suffer from food shortages, such is the case of the President of the Council of Ministers, Aníbal Torres, who ruled out that famine affects Peru.
“Food insecurity is worldwide, it is said that there will be a general famine. But Peru is not going to suffer from that, because we are going to take all measures so that this does not happen. We will not lack what to eat. Soon we will develop a council of ministers dedicated solely to food security”, He expressed during a press conference weeks ago.
How does the shortage of fertilizers influence?
It is important to mention that due to international conflicts, the price of urea has risen by up to 30%, which has complicated the acquisition of this fertilizer, which is extremely important for the agricultural sector.
That said, the 2022-2023 agricultural campaign is at risk due to the fertilizer deficit. Only in the first quarter of this year, the acquisition of this product fell by 84% compared to similar periods of previous years.
“We can reach August (the start of the campaign) with a fertilizer deficit, and that would imply a drop between 30% and 40% in agricultural production. This will later cause an increase in the prices of the products.”pointed out Eduardo Zegarra, a researcher at Grade.
It should be noted that Peru is the second country in Latin America and the Caribbean that depends the most on fertilizer imports from Russia, and the latter is now a paralyzed market as a result of the war with Ukraine. In this scenario, the Peruvian Ministry of Agrarian Development reported that 13 of the 24 regions with agricultural production have already reduced their cultivation areas due to lack of fertilizers.
The impact of the shortage of fertilizers will be reflected in a considerable increase in prices, which has been observed in recent months in different products of the basic food basket.