Food issue is a matter of National Security, that is, it is National Sovereignty.
Many countries in the world depend on Russia and Ukraine to a large extent for imports of agricultural products such as cereals, grains, wheat, fertilizers and vegetable oils, and this is not simply the underdeveloped countries, even the G20 and most of the BRICS also matter, however, it is the African continent, which most imports goods and services, whose impact has gained a challenging dimension for the domestic production of each state. It should also be noted that the war affected global commodity markets, raising the price of food in Africa, due to poor substitution and domestic production.
Russia and Ukraine are major exporters and have controlled this market for years. The two countries are known as the “breadbasket of Europe”, representing 29% of global wheat exports and 19% of corn exports, according to JP Morgan bank data. And with this war, the volatility of the market is notorious, increasing to even products such as oil and gas, where it left a certain opening for African countries, particularly gas.
But let’s get to the point.
The African continent has long forgotten to look at agricultural self-sufficiency, as these issues of lack of certain commodities are meaningless, even though they have everything to control this market, but political decisions, as well as the oligarchies and monopolies installed , benefit a lot from this model, which means that little or nothing is done to reverse modus operandi, therefore, when the seller has some difficulty in honoring commitments, there is a shortage and, at the same time, a sharp rise in these products, which makes the impact overwhelming, especially in a phase of recovery from COVID-19. Did the developed countries feel, let’s imagine the underdeveloped countries? It is necessary to invert the picture, look at this difficulty and find the best opportunities.
One of the great aspects that should be mentioned is in the political sphere, at this moment, the conflict had to define the aligned and non-aligned countries, those that support Russia and those that support the Western cause. In fact, the votes at the United Nations are a starting point to categorically understand who is with whom, and, as Africans voted, it will define support and alliances in various matters, in terms of size and preponderance, which can have a positive impact. and negatively depending on its positioning.
The impact for Africa was not based on energy, it had some influence on the price of oil and gas at a global level, but if Africa had an organized market in the energy sector, it would take more advantage of this, unfortunately, it was not organized, and it added many losses in the food sector, because most of the fertilizers needed for economic diversification are part of these products stuck in ports.
Wheat prices on some exchanges were traded at the highest values in 14 years, and many African countries had to look for other temporary suppliers to remedy the problem. To get a more robust idea, Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil, and Russia ranks second, according to S&P Global Platts. Together, they represent 60% of world production, and in Africa, these products, in addition to being in scarcity, the little that is on the market reaches a price above 50%, which impoverishes even more the families that lack these products, therefore, if harvesting or processing suffers, if exports are somehow disrupted, importing countries need to find ways to replace that supply, and therein lies the rise in prices. The impact of the war on grain production doubled international wheat prices, which seriously affected several countries that depend on imports of these grains, and to our knowledge, because we are dependent, Africa suffers doubling.
World Food Program director David Beasley told the BBC that rising prices due to the conflict in Ukraine could have a catastrophic impact on poorer nations.
For this reason, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, had to do everything to ensure that, at least the food part was safeguarded, so as not to affect the poorest countries any more, where Turkey, with Taiyp Erdogan, was in charge to be the sieve of this process, with a strong team to monitor the flow of these products and minimize problems, preventing the impact from being much more devastating.