Ukrainian first grain shipment since Russia’s invasion on February 24 has left the black sea port of Odesa in Ukraine for Lebanon under the safe corridor deal, which aims to allow safe passage for grain shipments in and out of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and the port of Pivdennyi.
This is following the breakthrough agreement signed in Istanbul by Ukraine and Russia over a week ago, designed to help relieve the global food crisis caused by the blocked Black Sea. Under this agreement which was brokered by the UN and Turkey, “safe passage” will allow the movement of cargo ships in the Black Sea, which Russia and Ukraine have committed not to attack to support the global supply of the commodity and ease global food shortages.
The Russia-Ukraine war has led to a global food and energy crisis as the two countries account for nearly a third of the world wheat supply. The countries also have significant oil refining capacities. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted the global supply of these commodities leading to a worldwide shortage and spike in their prices
In World Bank’s April 2022 Commodity Market Outlook, the bank highlighted that the war in Ukraine has disrupted global patterns of trade, production, and consumption of commodities in ways that will keep prices at historically high levels through the end of 2024. Suggesting that the rising global food prices are already a crisis that has to be dealt with.
This shipment is a major step to prevent world hunger as it will provide the needed breather for the heightened price up-shoot and global food shortages.
According to a Twitter post by a Ukrainian Government Official, Dmytro Kuleba, “the day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as the first Ukrainian grain leaves Odesa after months of Russian blockade. Ukraine has always been a reliable partner and will remain one should Russia respect its part of the deal.”
He also stressed that more ships would follow. The continued implementation of this export deal would help to feed people around the world with millions of tons of trapped Ukrainian grain.
What This Means for Africa
According to data from the United Nations (UN), ‘’Over the past decade, the Continent has seen growing demand for cereal crops, including wheat and sunflower, which has been mainly supported by imports than local production. Africa’s wheat imports increased by 68 percent between 2007 to 2019, surging to 47 million tonnes’’.
The Sub Saharan-Africa is heavily dependent on food imports from Russia and Ukraine, particularly wheat, as its imports about 85 percent of its wheat from either of the two countries. What this means is that Sub-Saharan African countries are on the frontlines of vulnerability to hunger when global food prices rise due to the protracted conflict. This high exposure to supply chain disruption is because the continent’s agricultural production cannot effectively serve domestic demand.
Notably, the Nigerian Bakers’ complaint over the high cost of production caused by the spike in the price of wheat among other factors, could be remedied by the anticipated drop in the price of wheat as global supply bolsters.
Hopefully, if more shipments of grains are successfully made, the global supply of wheat could return to pre-Russia-Ukraine war levels, reduce the price of the commodity, and put an end to the war-induced shortages.