Nairobi, Kenya – The effects of the war in Ukraine have reverberated around the world, and this is particularly the case in Africa where the ban on grain exports from Ukraine has driven up wheat prices and exacerbated hunger and famine.
So OfficialsAid groups and wheat importers across Africa welcomed Friday’s agreement to lift a ban on grain exports in Ukraine, where war has led to grain shortages and soaring food prices across the African continent.
“The screws were narrowing, so the deal should help us breathe,” said Celestine Toamba, CEO of La Pasta, the largest producer of flour and pasta in the West African nation of Cameroon.
The UN-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine is of particular importance in 14 African countries, According to the Food and Agriculture OrganizationIt depends on the two warring countries for half of its wheat imports. One country, Eritrea, is completely dependent on them.
The agreement will have limited impact in some other parts of Africa, as countries grapple with internal political, economic and social crises that have also contributed to increasing hunger and soaring food prices, said Nazanin Moshiri, an analyst with the International Crisis Group.
a Civil war in Ethiopiapolitical uncertainty in Sudanconflict and terrorism in countries such as Burkina Faso, Financial And the Somalia Preventing governments and humanitarian agencies from getting aid to the many people in need.
In Kenya, rising government debt and inflation have helped drive up food prices, leading to street protests and widespread anger on social media in recent weeks.
With the August 9 general election approaching, President Uhuru Kenyatta this week suspended Taxes on imported corn commanded a sharp reduction in the retail cost of cornmeal, an important staple.
During a visit to Kenya on Friday, Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said, announce $255 million in emergency aid to the country.
Many African countries rely mostly on grains such as maize, sorghum, millet and rice. But those who consume wheat have increasingly preferred to buy wheat from Russia in recent years because it is less expensive than grain from other countries, according to Hugo Debuix, director of Cerealis in Paris, a grain trader who sells to dozens of African countries. .
Some West African countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Ivory Coast are particularly vulnerable to disruptions to wheat exports from Russia. Governments have frozen bread or flour prices in an effort to contain high wheat prices that have jumped over the past two years from around $250 a ton in summer 2020 to $530 this spring.
It may take some time to ease the price hike. Mr. Tuamba, of La Pasta, estimated it would be “two to three months at the earliest, by the time we get the cheaper wheat”.
The Agreement signed in Istanbul on Friday It comes more than a month after the presidency of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Travel to Russia Urging President Vladimir Putin to release much-needed pills.
The lifting of the ban on grain exports is good news, but experts said it does not address soaring fertilizer and fuel prices, which have been driven by the Ukraine war and affected food security.
In West Africa, where the planting season began in May and June for most grains, the scarcity of affordable fertilizers due to the war could cause the region to lose a quarter of its production compared to last year, according to a report. evaluation By the regional political bloc, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme.
In Somalia, where nearly half of the country’s 16 million people face food shortages, fertilizer prices have risen 75 percent since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, according to Tjada de Owen McKenna, CEO of Mercy Corps.
“Today’s global food disaster exceeds 20 million tons of grain stuck in Ukraine,” McKenna said in an emailed statement.
Abdi Latif Daher Reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and Eliane Peltier From Dakar, Senegal.