By Stephen Ubanna
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, of Ukraine Republic, has sent a message to the International community to expect food crisis between now and 2023.According to him, Ukraine is a significant player in various global Commodities markets. The country’s ministry of Agriculture that that it exports about 15% of the global supply of barley and rye, 10% of wheat and 45% of the world’s sunflower oilseeds before the Russian invasion to its oversea Customers.
He had attributed the drop in Agricultural produce in the central, eastern and southern regions of the country to the fact that planting schedules in the regions are at risk which has affected its exports because of the Russian forces bombing of the farming Communities and towns in Ukraine. But with the heavy battle in country’s eastern and southern regions, and for the besieged port city of Mariupol, the Ukrainian troops were said to have recaptured 30 villages and towns in the two regions
Agency reports shows the Ukrainian farmers plant their major crops of corn, oats, and sunflower oilseeds during the months of March, April and May and harvest between June and July. Zelenskyy had said that the conflict between his home country, Ukraine and the Russian Federation, which was masterminded by Vladimir Putin, the country’s President, described as ‘’butcher’’ by Joe Biden, President of the North American country of the United States, US, have seriously ‘’reduced the upcoming supply of grains and sunflower oilseeds in the 2022-2023, marketing year’’.
.The Ukrainian Leader may have said to the hearing of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, during the Administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, of Nigeria, at different times, and now Director General, World Trade Organisation, WTO, that ‘’the global supply and demand balance for major grains and oil seeds would completely be reshaped as the country could no longer meet its global Commodities market supply because of the ongoing war.
This may have informed why the WTO, Director General, has warned other food- producing countries not take advantage of what is happening in Ukraine because of the Rusian invasion to stop supplies , stressing that ‘’it was vital to avoid a repeat of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, CCOVID 19, when the rich countries
were unable to secure for themselves the bulk of the vaccines. The WTO boss had expressed concern about ‘’the knock-on effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine , stressing the dependence of many African countries including Nigeria on food supplies from the Black sea egion. She fears that food prices and hunger this year and 2023, would be substantial’’, confirming what Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President had said.
The former Nigerian Finance minister had said that 35 African countries were dependent on food imported the black sea region . She had released the WTO data showing that Russia and Ukraine, alone, were responsible for 24% of global supplies of wheat, which stopped due to the ongoing war in the region. The WTO, Director General, had alluded to the act that that the 40% of the increase in the global wheat prices during the food crisis of a decade ago was as a result of hoarding by the food –producing rich economies. ‘’We must make sure we learn our lessons from the COVID 19 vaccines issue and previous food crisis’’, she had said. She may have shocked the International Community when she declared ‘’I am not sure we can fully mitigate the impact of the Ukraine war because of the numbers involved are huge’’. Her worry is that Ukraine which typically provides half of the wheat supplies to the World Food Programme, may no longer do so because of the conflict in the region.
Global Commodities watchers had reported that the short term price impacts are already visible in Nigeria and other parts of the world. This is because the prices of wheat used by bakers have increased, thus forcing the prices of Bread up by 60% since 21st of February, 2022.
They fear that the longer term implications of the global food crisis are still embedded in uncertainties as the situation worsens. There is no gain saying the fact that since Putin mobilised Russian forces, both land, sea and air, to invade Ukraine more than a month ago, , there has been massive disruptions ‘’to the physical flow of goods in and around the Black sea region.
Within the black sea region are ports of Dnistrovsky, Chornomorsk, Odessa, Yuzhny, Yevpatoriya(closed),Mykolaiv, Olivia and the specialized seaport of Olivia. Officials of the Ukraine’s ministry of Infrastructure may have painted a gory image of the situation in the black sea region and why exports of grains had reduced drastically in the recent time to the fact that part of the port of Olivia , which is currently under concession to Qatari Sea port operator terminals, had been hit by Russia military strike, The ministry had reported that three cargo ships have been the target of the Russian forces missile attacks. It is not surprising why imports and exports from Ukraine and Russia have dropped in the black sea region.
Note that with the Russia forces blockade of the Ukraine main black sea ports may have encouraged the Ukrainian traders to look for alternative export routes. Recall that the East Europe country was the world’s fourth largest grain exporter of grains in the 2020/21, season. That much was reported by the International Grains Council, with most of the Commodities shipped through the black sea ports. But with the Ukrainian war raging along the coast, traders were said to be scrambling ‘’to transport more grains to their EU, countries customers by rail and other Asian and African customers through Romania portAs a prelude to ensuring that the traders get their products to their oversea customer, the Ukrainian Railway, according to agency reports, had opened 12 terminals for them. The wagons are said to be backing up as it takes two or three weeks to process the export grains to the EU, consumers, particular. The Ukraine Railway Authorities are said to be currently struggling with a backlog of rain wagons on the country’s eastern borders.
The war which has entered into the second month with the ongoing peace Negotiations between the two countries being midwifed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President, has remained a’’ ding-dung affair’’ as the two parties are not shifting grounds. The Ukrainian President at the onset was prepared to make compromises to end the war in order for normal Agricultural activities to resume in the central, eastern and southern regions to boost its exports. He may have been emboldened to continue the war when the US, EU, UK and Canada, opted to give the country Humanitarian and Financial supports to sustain the war.
Take for instance, the Ukrainian President had requested for supply of Russian –manufactured tanks to strengthen its defenses. Biden, who was initially reluctant to do so, was said to have given his words ‘’to work out an arrangement with the allies to transfer the Russian –made tanks to Ukraine to bolster its defense in the Donbas region’’.
The Russian- manufactured tanks , which are scattered all over Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Estonia, Slovania, Lactivia and Lithunia , all former allies of the collapsed Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR, and now members of the NATO, including Poland, are now been gathered together in the various locations for immediate transfer to Ukraine. Zelenskyy may have requested for the Russian-made arms’’ to conduct long-range artillery strikes on Russian targets in the Donbas region of the south eastern Ukraine bordering Russian, which is the food basket of the country.
The US, government was said to have also agreed to provide an additional $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine, which according to informed sources include laser guided rocket systems, drones and commercial satellite imagery services.
Officials of the country’s Department of Defense are optimistic that the beginning of the contracting process for supply of the that the Russian-made tanks and other US –made equipment to Ukraine will provide ‘’new capabilities to its forces to defend their country from Russian attacks.