BY Busola Aro
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has pulled out of a deal to allow the supply of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
This is coming three months after both the Ukrainian and Russian military delegations signed an agreement to allow Russia to export its grain and fertilisers.
The deal, which also involved the United Nations (UN) and Turkey, was to restart grain exports from Black Sea ports that have been blocked since Russia’s invasion, in a bid to ease the ravaging global food crisis; as it would enable Ukraine to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products stuck in the ports due to the war.
However, on Saturday, the Russian government said it was suspending its participation in the Black Sea deal, according to Reuters.
This development is likely to affect third-world countries yet to receive shipments of grains.
Commenting on the suspension, Russia’s defence ministry said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea fleet near Sevastopol on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula with 16 drones early on Saturday, adding that British navy “specialists” had helped coordinate the “terrorist” attack.
PROGRESS ON GRAIN SHIPMENT
Since the shipment of grain began in July, over 630,000 tonnes of grain and other types of food have been shipped from Ukraine’s ports according to the United Nations.
Other food types include corn, wheat, and sunflower oil.
The first African shipment conveying over 23,000 metric tonnes of wheat from the Ukrainian port left for Ethiopia in August, 2022.
Also, the Ukrainian government said more than 40 ships have been listed, so far, to load foodstuffs at its ports.
HOW IT MAY AFFECT NIGERIA
Nigeria is projected to import 6 million tonnes of wheat in the 2022-23 marketing year, a 3 perent decrease over the previous season, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In 2021, Nigeria imported 51 percent of its wheat from Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and other Baltic countries.
Wheat from Russia, Ukraine, and other Black Sea countries remains the cheapest option for many milling companies in Nigeria.
Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, with Nigerian spending $491.90 million on imports from the country.
Meanwhile, when shipments began under the Black Sea deal, food prices fell by nearly 9 percent in July, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) food price index.
But inflation in Nigeria has maintained an upward trend, surging to 20.77 percent in September 2022, up from 20.52 percent in the previous month.
The food inflation rose to 23.34 percent in the review month, an uptick compared to the 23.12 percent recorded in the preceding month.
The inflationary surge was linked to soaring food prices, disruption in the supply of food products, rise in import cost due to the persistent currency depreciation and general increase in the cost of production.
With Russia now pulling out of the Black Sea grain export deal, the prices of food may further increase — worsening the existing food crisis in the country.
The Nigerian government had said it would look for alternative suppliers of grains amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
“There are countries that produce other grains or the grains that we need, we’re still in the process. Like, I said, we’re also looking inward to see what we can do to cushion the effect,” Mohammed Abubakar, minister of agriculture and rural development, had said.
He added that the country intends to look for areas where fertilisers can be produced because it has the mineral deposits that are precursors to fertiliser production and also other places where it can import, apart from Ukraine.