Grain shortage could cause food crisis in Ireland by the winter

Grain shortage could cause food crisis in Ireland by the winter

Farmer Oleksandr Zhuravsky checks the wheat in a field in the Donetsk region, Ukraine. Russian hostilities are preventing crops from leaving the "breadbasket of the world" and making food more expensive across the globe. Picture: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Ireland could be heading into a winter food crisis, with extreme weather and Russia's invasion of Ukraine putting severe strain on global supplies, one of Ireland's foremost climate scientists has warned.

Maynooth University professor of physical geography (climate change) Peter Thorne, who was a contributing author on the recent UN-backed International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, said grain stock would be “hugely expensive” during the winter and could affect food for people and animals alike.

“Things that worry me right now are India, which has gone from a furnace to effectively a lake with the monsoon that is going to do a number on Indian food production. Europe with its heatwave is going to inevitably have a huge deficit in production and much of the breadbasket of North America similarly is being baked at the moment. 

"I’d be more worried about the international dimensions and the implications in particular for the feed stock into the winter,” Prof Thorne told the Irish Examiner.

An Indian army soldier helps a flood-affected family in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Picture: Anupam Nath/AP
An Indian army soldier helps a flood-affected family in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. Picture: Anupam Nath/AP

As Ireland imports almost all its animal feed stock, and if there are shortages of grain and other food sources, the likelihood is that more will be diverted to human consumption, he added.

“Which means that grain stock will be hugely expensive coming into the winter. I expect human food inflation to be running north of 10%. I have no idea what feed grain stocks or cattle will be running at.

“It’s certainly not going to be simple — there is Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine, which will impact the growing season, and other breadbasket regions in the northern hemisphere are really going to start to pinch later this year. We live in a globally connected system, so while what happens on our shores is immediately tangible to us, I’m more worried about what’s happening on shore far from Ireland,” he said.

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