What Global Conflict Means for Farmers and Food Safety
Published On: November 19th, 2023
Written By: Aviva Gat, Content Writer
Healthy produce is one of the most important things for sustaining life on our planet.
When people don’t have access to sufficient or safe foods, they are susceptible to malnutrition, starvation, and multiple diseases ranging from dysentery to food poisoning and cancer.
While food safety is a priority along the entire supply chain, its root is at the farm. Farmers are the first important stakeholder in ensuring food safety and protecting public health.
While farmers are always responsible for growing and supplying safe and healthy foods, their responsibility is amplified in times of conflict. Read on to learn what farmers need to know about food safety amid global conflicts and how to implement food safety strategies.
Yonatan Gery, Operation Manager
How global conflicts affect food safety
Thanks to globalization, countries export and import produce from all over the world. The international trade of agricultural products is a big part of the global economy and ensures that people everywhere have access to food.
Global conflicts can impact trade and lead to food challenges and crises all over the world. In times of conflict, farmers may not be able to work their fields, leading to reduced production. Fields and crops can also be destroyed or contaminated. And even if food is produced, trade routes can be interrupted, and produce may expire or be unable to reach its intended destination.
For example, due to the Israeli Iron Swords War, acres of farmland have been desolated and populations have been evacuated to safer locations. There aren’t any available workers to work the fields and harvest ripe crops.
This can lead to food scarcity, where people may be unable to access enough food. This can be seen across Europe, Africa, and Asia due to the 2020 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Known as the “breadbasket of Europe,” Ukraine is one of the top grain producers and exporters in the region, but production dropped 29% due to the war[i]. The reduced production means that less produce is available in countries that previously relied on Ukrainian exports.
Food prices are also affected due to conflicts. Commodity prices are driven by supply and demand. Once supply drops, but demand remains the same, prices increase, meaning that people in lower financial brackets may not be able to access food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the
Maor Rakedzon- Israel & Projects Sales Manager, Yair Ben Eliezer- Finance Manager, Yonatan Gery- Operation Manager
The farmer’s role in food safety
When farmers caught up in conflict may be unable to produce, the rest of the world’s farmers may need to step in to ensure that the world’s citizens have enough to eat. For example, the European Commission estimates that the world must produce an additional 25 million tons of wheat due to the Russian/Ukrainian war.
Every farmer can do their part to maximize their crops to reduce deficiencies caused by global conflicts. This does not mean farmers are obligated to grow more, but it does mean that improving efficiency can significantly contribute to reducing world hunger.
Farmers can contribute to global food security by ensuring they are maximizing yield and protecting crops from contamination by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals.
Strategies to ensure food safety
While there are many protocols and regulations created by government bodies to ensure food safety, there are specific strategies for farmers to optimize yield and ensure healthy crops. Here are a few strategies Paskal has learned from the field.
Neta Scheinman, Global Quantity Manager
Strategies to improve yield
Irrigating for nutritional balance: Plants need different nutrients to grow and thrive. For optimal yield, plants need the right mix of nitrogen, calcium, and potassium. Plants get their nutrients from the additives provided through an irrigation system. Strategic irrigation can ensure that plants get an optimal nutrient balance that will lead to improved yield. Learn more about irrigation strategies here
Substrates: Substrates provide an optimal root environment and can therefore lead to up to 25% more crops. Crop losses due to damage are also reduced by about 30% because of the improved quality. Another benefit of substrates is that they ensure there are no diseases, fungi, or bacteria in the soil that could affect plants. Learn more about substrates here
Truss support: Heavy fruits put added weight on stems, which can lead to kinks, snaps, or other damage that prevents the free flow of water and nutrients to the leaves and fruit. When stems are damaged, growth is slowed, and crops suffer lower quality. Using truss arches to support stems prevents damage and can reduce the ripening period, meaning more crops are ready for harvest faster. Learn more about truss arches here
Strategies to ensure healthy crops
Grafting: Grafting is a great strategy to combat plant diseases, improve crop lifecycles, and create more resilient crops. Grafted plants have better immunity because they benefit from the resistance of several plant varieties, and they can thrive in a wider range of temperatures. This increased plant strength also means that plants need fewer chemicals and pesticides, making them preferable to consumers. Learn more about grafting here
Hygiene: Good crop hygiene means there are no pests, weeds, diseases, pollution, or fungi affecting the plants. When greenhouses are clear from contamination, plants are healthier and more resilient to battle any diseases, viruses, or bacteria that may infect them. Every greenhouse needs hygiene protocols to ensure no contaminants enter. These protocols cover how farmers set up the greenhouse, how the growing team works, and how inspections are done. Learn more about crop hygiene here
Vaccinate: Plant vaccines are not always available, but if they are, they are a great option for creating resilient and resistant plants. Vaccinations infect plants with small doses of diseases, which can make plants sick in the beginning, but will ensure that plants are not severely sick later. When plants recover from their vaccines, they are stronger and better able to fight diseases.
A healthy future
Food safety is of utmost importance for the survival of our planet, especially during global conflicts. Farmers have a key position in helping people suffering from the consequences of conflicts and can make small changes to ensure they are doing everything they can. Not only will adopting these strategies help people in need, but they will also ensure an efficient farm and therefore a healthy farming business.