Beasley in Uganda in 2017. Photo courtesy of WFP.

Former S.C. Gov. David Beasley, head of the world’s biggest food aid agency, will announce a global fundraising drive Tuesday in Columbia as a response to the crisis in Ukraine and a looming worldwide food shortage.

“This is the moment for each individual to push back and play their part in the kind of world they want,” said Beasley, head of the United Nations World Food Program. “We’re seeing extraordinary initiatives emerging from big and small companies, often driven by employee demand. But we’re at the beginning of this crisis, and we need to prepare for the long and hard road ahead.”

Joining Beasley at the 2 p.m. Tuesday news conference on the Statehouse steps will be former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges and former New York Gov. George Pataki, according to a press release.  The initiative will focus on billionaires, corporations and individuals.

Beasley said the new outreach effort is vital to stave increasing operational and food costs because of the war in Ukraine and interruption to its grain production.. 

“If you think we’ve got hell on earth now, you just get ready,” Beasley told Politico earlier this week.  “If we neglect northern Africa, northern Africa’s coming to Europe. If we neglect the Middle East, [the] Middle East is coming to Europe.”

The war, Beasley said, is worsening the problem of global hunger by raising prices and disrupting the supply of food, in part, because Russia and Ukraine traditionally are leading grain producers and exporters. The former governor said European nations needed to pump money to help pay for food aid.

“We’re billions short,” he told Politico. “Failure to provide this year a few extra billion dollars means you’re going to have famine, destabilization and mass migration.”  He also added, “What do you think is going to happen in Paris and Chicago and Brussels when there’s not enough food? It’s easy to sit on your high horse in your ivory tower when you’re not the one starving.”

Beasley told Politico that the WFP has an $8 billion shortfall now because of the “perfect storm” of COVID-19, inflation, climate change and wars.  In 2021, Ukraine provided 9 percent of the food that WFP bought.