African Union Chair Meets Putin to Discuss Food Insecurity
The top African Union official met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to discuss the war in Ukraine and its effects on Africa. A cutoff in grain exports has heightened food insecurity in many African countries, leaving millions of Africans hungry.
Senegalese President Macky Sall met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian city of Sochi Friday to discuss the war in Ukraine and the effect it’s having on Africa’s 1.3 billion people.
Before the war, the continent annually imported about 30 million tons of wheat and maize from Russia and Ukraine. The war has greatly reduced the exports and sparked a global increase in food and fuel prices.
At Friday’s meeting, Sall, the current African Union chairperson, urged Putin to be aware that African countries are “victims” of the Ukraine conflict, according to the French news agency. He said food supplies should be “outside” of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine.
Speaking to journalists in Nairobi, Africa Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, said the rise in oil prices caused by the war is also hurting Africa’s economy.
“You look at the energy prices today, energy prices have gone up to the roof of course which benefits all the exporting countries but you, for example, Kenya, you spend a lot of money importing fuel,” Adesina said. “So fuel made importing countries suffer as a result of that which has a tendency to slow down economic growth.”
Adesina also lamented the Russian blockade of ships in the Black Sea, which is holding back millions of tons of Ukrainian grain meant for other countries, including some in Africa.
The Africa Development Bank recently authorized a $1.5 billion program to ensure that Africa grows enough food to feed its citizens. The bank group said the money would benefit 20 million African farmers.
Adesina said the bank is determined to make Africa less reliant on outside countries for its food supply.
“Africa will not have a food crisis,” he said “We will support Africa to produce its food and we will use this opportunity. We must not lose, and wait for a crisis, to get Africa to be a solution to global food issues. Africa has 65 percent of all arable land left in the world. So what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world. We must take agriculture as a business.”
In the meantime, some countries are facing severe problems feeding their populations.
Chad, a landlocked African country, declared a food emergency Thursday and authorities called other countries for help.
Last month, the United Nations said the number of food-insecure people in the world has doubled from 135 million to 276 million in two years. The crisis is blamed on climate change, the global pandemic and the current war in Ukraine.
As African leaders meet the Russian president, the head of the African Development Bank is calling for an end to the war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and negatively impacted millions of people around the world.