The UK has scrambled to build up a back stock of chemicals exported by Russia as the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has exposed a major risk to the food security of millions of Britons. Mr Putin has amassed 140,000 troops along the border of Ukraine, with experts fearing that an invasion is imminent.
Food security experts have warned that the conflict between the two countries, which provide 30 percent of the world’s wheat exports, may have disastrous consequences.
Earlier this month, Russia has banned the export of ammonium nitrate (AN) for a stretch of several months, which has led to prices skyrocketing in the UK.
This move by Mr Putin was widely predicted as he aimed to guarantee an affordable supply for domestic farmers as global fertilizer prices spiked.
This chemical is a key ingredient for boosting yields from crops such as wheat and cotton.
The ban has led to the global price of fertilisers skyrocketing, which had already risen before after the US and UK imposed sanctions on Belaruskali, Belarus’s biggest potash supplier in 2021.
Ammonia gas, which is a key component in the production of AN, was seen a sharp price rise over the past year.
Since October 2020, prices for AN have risen more than fivefold, forcing farmers to make comprises to prevent a food crisis.
Some farmers have had to reconsider their nitrogen fertilizer usage, even favouring legumes such as soybeans, which require less nitrogen fertilizer than corn and wheat.
They said that the news “had already been in the pipeline, and [AN] stocks have been built, certainly in the UK.
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) warned that tensions between the two eastern European countries have revealed a risk to the UK’s food supplies, with soaring costs and post Brexit in-fighting helping to create a “perfect storm” for the country’s food security.
Speaking to the Independent, she said: “I cannot understand why you would not treat food security as important as defence.
“The quickest way to create a serious issue [for a country] is if you have food shortages.”