- The Chair of the African Union has called upon EU leaders to take necessary actions and release grain stocks amid ‘ordeal circumstances’ for the global supply chain
The African Union has reportedly cautioned EU leaders about a “catastrophic scenario” of food shortages and price rises due to the blockade imposed on Ukraine’s ports by Moscow as the Russian invasion shows no signs of subsiding.
Macky Sall, Senegal’s president and the chair of the African Union stated that the worst is likely yet to come if the ongoing global food supply circumstances continue.
Sall, during a video conference with 27 EU leaders in Brussels, stated that African countries had been impacted severely by the global food crisis, attributed to the continent’s strong reliance on wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Sall added that the situation is worrisome for a continent that is home to 282 million people who do not have enough to eat.
Sall stressed that the Union would like the available grain stocks to be released in the immediate future with support to transport and supply them to the market. Thus avoiding a catastrophic scenario of food shortage and hypothesized inflated prices.
For the record, African countries imported around 44% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia, with Ukraine alone growing food that is ample enough to feed over 400 million people before the war.
The blockade of Ukraine’s ports by Russia has led to what analysts are calling a ‘perfect global food supply storm’, as the world’s farmers face exponential oil and fertilizer costs and deal with the lasting effects of COVID-19 labor limitations.
While African cereal harvests are forecast to be more than 20% to 50% lower, the price of fertilizers is now three times higher as compared to 2021. Meanwhile, France, the US, and India are also slated to see a reduced wheat harvest due to droughts.
Sall has blamed EU sanctions on Russian banks for aggravating the situation. EU has restricted some of Russia’s largest banks out of Belgian-headquartered swift interbank, making it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do business.
European Council president, Charles Michel, later tweeted that Russia is using food as a weapon of war, consequently destroying crops and breaking the food chain risking a global famine. The European Union is working to liberate Ukraine’s export, Michel added.
The EU intends to get more than 20 million tons of wheat out from Ukraine by the end of July, which is approximately half of the total amount that is stuck in the country. Facing a challenge in sea transport, EU is attempting to help firms develop alternative routes called “solidarity lanes” which is a huge task in and of itself.