EUROPEAN Union (EU) Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni says the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on food security will potentially have “dramatic consequences” for African countries that rely on grain imports.
Speaking during an official visit to Bucharest, Romania, Gentiloni said food security would not be an issue in Europe, which is struggling with high inflation rather than low food supplies.
According to him, the Horn of Africa was expected to feel the tremors of the intensifying crisis in Ukraine, especially as the prices of food, oils and fertiliser rise.
Parts of the East Africa region including Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are already experiencing the worst drought in decades, coupled with an underfunded humanitarian response.
South Sudan, meanwhile, was experiencing widespread food insecurity due to severe flooding, and if East Africa’s rains fail again, up to 28 million people in the region could face severe hunger.
Executive Director at Oxfam International Gabriela Bucher, during a press conference on March 22, said “the crisis in Ukraine, which is generating so much suffering there, is also amplifying suffering and the severity of conditions across the world”.
Available records show that about one-quarter of the world’s wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine, and 40 per cent of Ukraine’s wheat and corn exports are sent to the Middle East and Africa.
For instance, East African countries import up to 90 per cent of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, with wheat and its products accounting for one-third of average national cereal consumption in the region.
Wheat prices have already spiked globally, reaching levels comparable to those during the 2008 financial crisis.
Tunisia and Morocco get 6.3 per cent and 5.7 per cent of their wheat imports from Ukraine.
In 2019, N349 billion worth of wheat was imported into Nigeria.
In 2020, Nigeria’s total wheat imports amounted to N756. 9 billion of which N186 billion was sourced from the United States, and N144 billion from Russia.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.