Impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and sustainability in food production

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Birgir Örn Smárason, environmental and resource scientist and specialist manager at Matís in Akureyri, was a guest on Channel 2's Morgunútvarp this week together with Jón Bjarki Bentsson, Íslandsbanki's chief economist.

Their topic of discussion was the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the economy and the food industry in Iceland so far, as well as their prediction of the long-term impact.

Birgir said that the war would in all likelihood have a major impact on global food supply and prices because at this time there is a very important time in food production in the northern hemisphere. He refers to the period of spring labor in agriculture, which conditions in Russia and Ukraine inevitably have a negative effect on. Both Ukraine and Russia are among the world's largest exporters of various agricultural products such as food, such as cereals, maize, rice and vegetable oil, but also fertilizers. The two countries are also large exporters of oil, gas and more, which is important for goods to get between countries. Due to the invasion and the subsequent trade sanctions, it can be assumed that food prices will rise considerably in the coming months.

Jón Bjarki and Birgir also discussed that although Icelandic food production is in many respects still dependent on imported products such as fertilizers, oil and wheat, there are also various opportunities and opportunities to make domestic food production more sustainable. Birgir mentioned examples of projects that have been carried out at Matís in recent months and years, such as development of organic, environmentally friendly fertilizers from underutilized resources and production of insects, unicellular proteins from by-products of Icelandic forests and algae. In addition, he pointed out that there were still various opportunities in the cultivation of vegetables and grains and the utilization of seaweed and kelp.  

The interview can be listened to in its entirety on Channel 2's website here: The morning radio. The interview with Birgur and Jón Bjarki starts at 01:07:00