The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has warned Nigeria and other African countries to prepare for higher food prices.
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday, Isobel Coleman, USAID’s deputy administrator for policy and programming, attributed the development to Russia’s recent decision to abandon the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Coleman said the impact of the hike in food prices would be more felt in developing countries that were import-dependent, and had conventionally relied on grain imports from Ukraine.
Coleman said, “One of the world’s largest breadbaskets is Ukraine. By doing this, Russia is increasing food prices globally. We’ve already seen how global food prices came down over time after the Black Sea Grain Initiative came into place. Since Russia has pulled out of the agreement, food prices have again been on the rise.
“This affects every country around the world, but it affects, most acutely, large import-dependent developing countries that have to spend much of their precious foreign exchange resources to purchase food to feed their population.”
The Black Sea Grain Initiative was conceived to specifically allow for commercial food and fertiliser (including ammonia) exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, which are Odessa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, led to a complete halt of maritime grain shipments from Ukraine, previously a major exporter via the Black Sea. Additionally, Russia temporarily halted its grain exports, further exacerbating the situation.
This resulted in a rise in world food prices and the threat of famine in lower-income countries such as Nigeria, and accusation that Russia was weaponising food supplies.
To address the issue, discussions began in April 2022, hosted by Turkey (which controls the maritime routes from the Black Sea) and supported by the UN. The resulting agreement was signed in Istanbul in July 22, valid for a period of 120 days.