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Russia-Ukraine war could worsen African food shortages

Image: Oxfam East Africa [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Continent urged to diversify supply chains and invest in local production

African nations could face worsening food insecurity as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, whether they depend on those countries for food imports or not, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa has warned.

The Kenya-based non-governmental organisation issued two policy briefs this week urging all African countries to diversify food imports, invest in local agricultural production, and boost intra-African trade to stave off the looming crisis.

Many African countries depend on food imports from Russia and Ukraine. North Africa is the most dependent, but Nigeria, Sudan, Kenya and South Africa also import wheat and other staples from the two countries.

Food prices were already at a 10-year high before the Russian invasion, as a result of disruptions to food production and supply chains caused by climate change and Covid-19, Agra said.

The conflict risks causing further disruption, and low-income countries are the most vulnerable to food price fluctuations.

“Many vulnerable populations that are already struggling to get food, risk being pushed into further worse food security conditions leading to an increase in the number of food-insecure people,” Agra said.

Russia’s invasion has threatened supply in both countries, said Agra, and this will directly affect African nations that import from them.

But others will also feel the pinch. Inflation will rise, pushing up food prices, even in countries that aren’t major trade partners of the two warring nations, Agra added.