It’s been over a year that the war in Ukraine is still ongoing, and the situation there is more and more alarming for the African continent. Indeed, Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative triggers a surge in global food supply prices. Impacting nations worldwide, particularly those heavily reliant on grain imports. Nigeria and other African nations have been cautioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to get ready for increasing food costs.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative was an agreement between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations (UN) that allowed for the safe export of grain from Ukraine's Black Sea ports. The initiative was launched in July 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which had blocked the export of grain from Ukraine's ports.
Russia cited several reasons for its withdrawal from the initiative, including the fact that it was not able to guarantee the safety of ships in the Black Sea. Russia also said that the initiative did not do enough to address its own grain exports.
The withdrawal of Russia from the Black Sea Initiative is a major setback for efforts to alleviate the global food crisis. Ukraine is a major exporter of grain, and its exports are vital to the food security of many countries around the world. The withdrawal of Russia from the initiative makes it more difficult for Ukraine to export its grain, and this could lead to higher food prices and deepen the food shortages.
In addition, the war is also disrupting the global fertilizer market. Russia is a major producer of fertilizer, and the war has caused prices of fertilizer to skyrocket. This is making it more expensive for farmers to grow crops, which could lead to lower yields and further food shortages.
Africa is the world's second-largest continent by land area and is home to over 1.3 billion people. It is also a continent with a high rate of food insecurity. According to the World Food Programme, over 200 million people in Africa are food insecure, and this number is expected to increase due to the war in Ukraine.
The United Nations is working to find a way to resume grain exports from Ukraine, but it is unclear if this will be possible. In the meantime, African countries need to take steps to mitigate the impact of the withdrawal of Russia from the Black Sea Grain Initiative. These steps could include increasing domestic food production, importing food from other countries, and providing food assistance to those who are most in need.
Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement exposes the reality of Africa’s extensive dependence on imported goods. This is, in fact, a wake-up call for African governments to stop practicing rentier economics.
African countries do not process their commodities into consumable goods. As a result, they have to depend on imported goods to feed their own population despite having all the commodities at their disposal. The continent’s inability to process its own food is a serious problem that keeps Africans dependent and underneath other countries. The ability of the continent to transform its own commodities must become its absolute priority.