According to a recent report, at least 21 countries, including Afghanistan, Cameroon and Ethiopia, Haiti and Lebanon, Somalia, and Sudan, were on the verge of a catastrophic level of debt distress as well as rising hunger by 2022. Even though food prices are currently at record highs, this is despite the fact that they have fallen a year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Also read: Price of food inflation.
Global public debt was at its highest levels in almost 60 years, and countries were having to choose between repaying debts and feeding people, according to the special report by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), released on March 6, 2023.
Around 60 percent of low-income and 30 percent of middle-income nations were considered to be at high risk (or already in debt distress).
In 2022, costs for servicing debt in the world’s poorest nations will increase by 35%, according to a report entitled Breaking the Cycle of Unsustainable Food Systems, Hunger, and Debt. In the first year after the COVID-19 pandemic, 62 developing nations spent more money on debt repayments than they did on healthcare.
In the midst of this crisis, in November 2022, there will be 45 countries in need of food assistance from outside. Three hundred forty-nine million people are at risk of acute food insecurity in these countries, and 49 million of them may face famine.
The article highlighted the fact that the food crisis had entered a dangerous phase – a debt crisis that could cause millions to go hungry.
As a result of structurally higher import costs and debt repayments in the near future, dozens of low-income nations will lose their ability to deal with the crises that are escalating.
Also read: Wheat crisis: Will the February heat cause a steep decline in output this year?
In 2022, poorer countries paid 47 percent of external debt payments to private lenders, 12 percent to China, 14 percent to other governments, and the remaining 27 percent to multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
In 2022, sub-Saharan Africa will spend an extra $4.8 billion in food imports while receiving less overall.
Africa’s food import dependence has tripled over the past decades, leaving it vulnerable to price spikes in food in 2022. “They will have to earn dollars through export crops to pay off their debts – rather than meet local food needs.”
The authors pointed out that the unsustainable food system was a major factor in debt growth and rising hunger.
The document said that “Import dependency, extractive financial flow, boom-bust commodity cycle and climate-vulnerable foods systems combine to destabilise finances in the world’s most poor countries.”
Also read: A new pandemic has struck the world: Food inflation
The report called for urgent action to provide debt relief and development finance on a scale to meet the needs of COVID-19 recovery, climate-resilient food systems, and sustainable development goals.
The report also called on policymakers to correct “historical injustices which have led to countries exporting profits to the North, through windfall taxation of food profiteers as well as further steps towards tax justice, climate equity and repaying ‘ecological debts’ and historical debts.
Recipe: Dal vadas
- Tamarind Seed Flour: 2 tablespoons
- Add other lentils, such as green gram or chickpeas, for a better texture.
- Drumstick leaves: a handful
- Ginger: about 5 cm
- Garlic: 10 cloves
- Green chilies:
- Salt is a taste.
- Oil for frying
To make a paste, soak urad dal for 30 minutes in water, then blend it in a blender with garlic, ginger, and chilies. Mix well tamarind seed powder, drumstick leaves, and salt into the paste. Heat the oil to fry. Fry a small amount and form it into a doughnut shape so it cooks evenly. Serve with chutney or other condiments.