• Monday, May 27, 2024
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US warns plundered Ukraine grain heading to Africa

Europe is in the grip of ‘èdì’ over Ukraine!

The United States has warned that grain plundered in Ukraine by Russia could be making its way to Africa but the continent staring at a food crisis may not care too much about the source.

Russia has blockaded Ukrainian access to the Black Sea and accused of plundering grain production capacity of Ukraine and now seeking to profit by selling them to drought-stricken countries in Africa, according to a New York Times report.

Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia also heavily exports fertiliser and Ukraine corn and sunflower oil. But Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled since Russia invaded, with some 20 million tonnes of grain stuck.

Last month, the US sent an alert to 14 countries mostly in Africa that Russian cargo vessels were leaving ports near Ukraine filled with stolen grain.

The US warnings reinforced accusations by the Ukrainian government that Russia has stolen up to 500,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat worth $100 million since its February 24 invasion.

Ukrainian officials say much of the stolen grain has reportedly been trucked to ports in Russia-controlled Crimea, then transferred to ships, including some under Western sanctions.

Read also: Africa facing worst food crisis over Russia-Ukraine war – AfDB’s agric vice-president

Vasyl Bodnar, Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey last Friday said Russia was shipping the stolen grains out of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

“Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and getting it out from the invaded Crimea. These grains are being shipped to foreign countries, including Turkey,” he told reporters in Ankara.

Russia and Ukraine account for 40 percent of wheat supply in Africa but since the war started, prices have risen over 23 percent due to supply disruption.

Worse still, in the Horn of Africa region, a devastating drought has left 17 million people hungry, mostly in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya according to the United Nations.

Analysts say in the face of such pressure; many African countries will care little about the source of the grain. Last week, head of the African Union and president of Senegal, Macky Sall met with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president to discuss how to secure grain supplies from Russia.

In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, a food crisis is afoot on the continent where more than half of its wheat supply comes from both countries.

Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, expects critical short-term supply and pricing effects — a food crisis — unless the conflict is resolved expeditiously.

Higher food prices mean that fewer African households will be able to afford a single decent daily meal. Malnourishment will rise. Africa’s food-insecure households will be left much further behind. Their consumption rates will fall, savings will be depleted, debt will increase, and assets will be liquidated, a World Economic Review states.