August 14, 2022

The US and Ukraine are waiting to see if Russia keeps its word

debt…Eduardo Soteras/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya – The effects of the war in Ukraine have reverberated around the world, particularly in Africa where the disruption of grain exports from Ukraine has driven up wheat prices and exacerbated hunger and starvation.

So OfficersAid groups and wheat importers across Africa welcomed Friday’s deal to curb grain exports to Ukraine, where war has led to grain shortages and soaring food prices across the African continent.

“The rope was tight, so this deal will give us a breather,” said Celestine Tawamba, CEO of La Pasta, the West African country of Cameroon’s largest flour and pasta producer.

The UN-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine is particularly important among 14 African countries, According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, depends on the two warring countries for half of its wheat imports. One country, Eritrea, is completely dependent on them.

But the deal will have limited impact in other parts of Africa, where countries are grappling with internal political, economic and social crises that have contributed to rising hunger and high food prices, said Nazanine Moshiri, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.

This is especially true in East African countries, which are experiencing their worst drought in four decades Destroyed farms and livestockDry rivers and wells and leading to the death of hundreds of children.

A Civil war in EthiopiaPolitical uncertainty Sudanand conflict and terrorism in countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali And Somalia Governments and humanitarian organizations have prevented many in need from receiving aid.

In Kenya, rising government debt and inflation have helped drive up food prices, sparking street protests and widespread anger on social media in recent weeks.

President Uhuru Kenyatta this week with a general election on August 9 Suspended It ordered tariffs on imported maize and a steep reduction in the retail price of maize flour, an important staple food.

Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, who visited Kenya on Friday, declared $255 million in emergency aid to the country.

Many African countries rely mostly on grains such as sorghum, sorghum, millet and rice. But wheat consumers have increasingly preferred to buy wheat from Russia in recent years because it is cheaper than grains from other countries, says Hugo Depoix, Paris-based manager of Cerealis, a grain trader that sells to a dozen African countries. .

Some West African countries, such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon or Ivory Coast, are particularly facing disruptions in wheat exports from Russia. Over the past two years, governments have frozen baguette, or flour, prices in an attempt to control wheat prices, which have risen from $250 a tonne in the summer of 2020 to $530 this spring.

Recovery from inflation may take time. Mr. from La Pasta Company. “In two to three months, we will get wheat at low prices,” Tawamba estimated.

The The agreement was signed in Istanbul on Friday More than a month after the inauguration of President Macky Sall of Senegal, the head of the African Union, Traveled to Russia Urge President Vladimir Putin to release much-needed grain.

The lifting of the ban on grain exports is welcome news, but it does not address the rising prices of fertilizers and fuel that have been driven by the war in Ukraine and affected food security, experts said.

In West Africa, where the planting season for most cereals began in May and June, a shortage of affordable fertilizers due to the war could lead to a loss of a quarter of its output from last year. Assessment Regional Policy Module, FAO and the World Food Programme.

In Somalia, where nearly half of the country’s 16 million people face food insecurity, the price of fertilizer has risen 75 percent since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, according to Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, CEO of Mercy Corps.

“Today’s global food crisis exceeds the 20 million tonnes of grain trapped in Ukraine,” Ms McKenna said in an emailed statement.

Abdi Latif Tahir Nairobi, Kenya and Elian Peltier From Dakar, Senegal.