Families in Africa saddled with higher food costs and hunger due to Russia’s war on Ukraine

African households witness wheat flour prices at levels not seen in months, as in Russia Continue the war on Ukraine.

Most of the wheat sold in Somalia is imported from Ukraine and Russia, but exports through the Black Sea have stopped since the Kremlin began invading its eastern European neighbor in late February.

African families, wheat shortages

FILE – Malian women screen wheat in a field near Segou in central Mali on January 22, 2013. In 2022, households across Africa will pay about 45 percent more for wheat flour as Russia’s war in Ukraine hinders exports from the Black Sea.Some countries, including Somalia, have (AP Newsroom)

Between 2018 and 2020, African countries imported 44% of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine, According to United Nations data. The African Development Bank reported a 45 percent rise in wheat prices on the continent, making some wheat products more expensive for customers.

UN warns 14 million suffer severe hunger Due to the drought in the region, in the Horn of Africa, and that number is likely to only worsen in the coming months.

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The UN World Food Programme said in April that “drought-related hunger could rise to 20 million by 2022, up from a current estimate of 14 million”.

Haji Abdi Dhiblawe, a businessman who imports wheat flour into Somalia, also expressed concern that the food situation in the region will worsen.

“The Somalis have nowhere to grow wheat, and we’re not even familiar with how to grow it,” he said. “Our main concern now is what will happen to our future when our current supply runs out.”

A shortage of shipping containers is also expected, at which point food will need to be delivered from elsewhere.

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African wheat shortage

FILE – Farm employees apply fertilizer at a farm in Gerdau, North West Province, South Africa, on November 19, 2018. Households across Africa pay about 45 percent more for wheat flour as Russia’s war in Ukraine blocks exports from the Black Sea.some countries (AP Newsroom)

Another 18 million people in the Sahel are suffering from acute hunger. The Sahel lies directly below the Sahara Desert, and farmers there are facing their worst agricultural production in more than a decade.

“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels, and the global situation is deteriorating. Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19, and soaring food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm — and now we have war on top of the disaster in Ukraine. Disaster,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, said earlier this month.

The price of therapeutic food for malnourished children could rise by 16 percent in the next six months due to the war in Russia and pandemic-related disruptions, according to the United Nations’ International Children’s Emergency Fund.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Last week, he called on the West to lift sanctions on Ukraine in an apparent attempt to blame the West for the global food crisis.

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African wheat shortage

A woman walks past sacks of wheat flour piled high at the Hamar-Wayne market in Mogadishu, Somalia, Thursday, May 26, 2022. Households across Africa are paying about 45 percent more for wheat flour as Russia’s war in Ukraine blocks exports from Russia. (AP Newsroom)

According to the Kremlin, Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Russia “is ready to make a significant contribution to overcoming the food crisis by exporting grain and fertilizers, provided that politically motivated restrictions in the West are lifted.”

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But Western officials have rejected Russian claims that sanctions are the cause of the food shortages. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken Zeng said food, fertilizers and seeds are exempt from sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and several other countries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.