While Ukraine and Russia have signed two agreements to release grain shipments to ease the global food crisis, particularly in Africa, other problems are weighing heavily on the balance of staple food prices. . These are the risks of floods, droughts and heat waves, all consequences of climate change, which reduce production and increase prices.
If the two agreements signed under the aegis of the UN and Turkey between kyiv and Moscow have been a breath of fresh air for several African countries dependent on cereal imports, the latter are however not at the end of their troubles.
Despite Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s tour of Africa to reassure his partners of Russia’s reliability (which was preventing shipments of maize and wheat from leaving Ukrainian ports), African leaders welcomed the news of the gradual resumption of cereal exports with relief but above all with great caution.
Among the reasons for this distance is the bitter observation that the continent remains highly dependent on imports to feed its population. While Russian and Ukrainian wheat cover 30% of world needs, certain countries on the continent such as Egypt import up to 85% of their cereals.
Moreover, the reports and declarations of the representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are all warning signs of the risk of famine in several African countries because of the increase grain prices.
In the countries most dependent on imports, the bill has increased irrationally, going up to 70% more for rice and flour prices.
Threats of drought, floods and heat waves are going to be another driving factor in the continued rise in prices, despite the drop in July, which saw the lowest prices since January.
The world’s main producers, namely the United States, Brazil and Argentina, are currently facing heat waves which are directly impacting their yields and lower production means higher prices.
The figures are there, the world production of corn and soy has not reached its objectives for the 2021-2022 campaign which targeted some 45 million tonnes. In July, while corn prices fell 18.9% less than in June, they remained 11.3% higher than those recorded in December 2021 and more than 10% for soybeans.
According to the US agency Bloomberg, the US Department of Agriculture is expected to revise down its outlook for corn and soybean yields this week. Within the European Union, heat waves will impact cereal yields by 5% compared to the previous year.
Morocco is not to be outdone, since the Kingdom is experiencing a period of drought never seen in the last 30 years. It is worse than the serious droughts of the 80s and 90s. Measures have been taken by the authorities by limiting the consumption of drinking water and by reinforcing the policy of water desalination plants, but it is the agriculture, one of the main resources of the country, which consumes the most drinking water.
And yet, because of the drought, the authorities announced very early this year that the cereal harvest was going to be below expectations, going as far as minus 67% in yield reaching only 3.4 million tonnes this year, contrary to the previous year when windfall revenues from agriculture increased the country’s income.
Some countries in Africa are suffering more from the drought situation and geopolitical instability. States like Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti are also experiencing the worst drought in 40 years.
In a statement, the International Rescue Committee’s emergency director for East Africa, Shashwat Saraf, said the lifting of the blockade on Ukrainian and Russian grain, “will go some way to alleviating hunger. extreme situation faced by more than 18 million people in East Africa” underlining that already 3 million people are already facing catastrophic conditions of hunger”.
“The next important step must be to fully fund the humanitarian response in the region, in order to avoid the worst effects of the drought and to prevent an unprecedented catastrophic famine from completely engulfing the region by the end summer,” he added.
According to the FAO, by the end of the summer “40 million Africans will be in increased food insecurity”, if urgent solutions are not taken.