Russian-Ukrainian military news: live updates

Credit…Eduardo Soteras / Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

NAIROBI, Kenya — The effects of the war in Ukraine have reverberated around the world, and this is especially true in Africa, where the blocking of grain exports from Ukraine has triggered a skyrocketing price of wheat and exacerbated famine and famine.

So officialsAid groups and wheat importers in Africa welcomed Friday’s deal to unlock grain exports to Ukraine, where the war has led to grain shortages and rising food prices on the African continent.

“The noose has been tightening, so the deal should help us breathe,” said Celestine Tawamba, chief executive officer of La Pasta, the largest flour and pasta producer in the West African nation of Cameroon.

The UN-brokered agreement between Russia and Ukraine is of particular importance to 14 African countries that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, depend on the two warring nations for half of their wheat imports. One country, Eritrea, is completely dependent on them.

But the deal will have limited impact in some other parts of Africa, where countries are grappling with internal political, economic and social crises that have also fueled rising hunger and high food prices, said Nazanin Moshiri, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.

This is especially true in East Africa, where the worst drought in four decades destroyed farms and livestockdried up rivers and wells and led to the death of hundreds of children.

BUT Ethiopian civil warpolitical uncertainty in Sudanas well as conflicts and terrorism in countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali as well as Somalia prevented governments and humanitarian organizations from reaching many in need.

In Kenya, rising public debt and inflation have fueled rising food prices, sparking street protests and massive social media anger in recent weeks.

With the general election approaching on Aug. 9, President Uhuru Kenyatta this week suspended taxes on imported corn and ordered a sharp reduction in the retail price of cornmeal, an important staple food.

During a visit to Kenya on Friday, Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, announced $255 million in emergency aid to the country.

Many African countries mainly consume grains such as corn, sorghum, millet and rice. But those who consume wheat have increasingly chosen to buy wheat from Russia in recent years because it is cheaper than grain from other countries, according to Hugo Despois, Paris manager of Cerealis, a grain trader that sells grain in a dozen African countries. .

Some West African countries such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon or Côte d’Ivoire are particularly susceptible to disruptions in Russian wheat exports. Governments have frozen the price of baguettes or flour to contain the skyrocketing price of wheat, which has jumped from about $250 a tonne in the summer of 2020 to $530 this spring over the past two years.

It may take some time to recover from the price surge. mr. Tawamba of La Pasta calculated that it would be “at the earliest in two to three months when cheaper wheat gets to us.”

Agreement signed in Istanbul on Friday came more than a month after the African Union President Macky Sall, President of Senegal, traveled in Russia urge President Vladimir Putin to release much-needed grain.

The unblocking of grain exports is welcome news, but experts say it does not solve the problem of soaring fertilizer and fuel prices, which are also caused by the war in Ukraine and have affected food security.

In West Africa, where the planting season for most grains began in May and June, a shortage of affordable fertilizer due to the war could see the region lose a quarter of its production compared to last year. grade regional political bloc, FAO and the World Food Programme.

In Somalia, where nearly half of the country’s population of 16 million is food insecure, fertilizer prices have risen 75 percent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, according to Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, chief executive officer of Mercy Corps.

“Today’s global food disaster goes far beyond the 20 million tons of grain that are stuck in Ukraine,” she said. McKenna said in an emailed statement.

Abdi Latif Dahir reported from Nairobi, Kenya and Eliane Peltier from Dakar, Senegal.