Global Food Costs Rise: Real Crisis Hits Africa

The wheat Ayan Hassan Abdirahman buys to cook a meal for her 11 children in Somalia’s capital now actually costs as much as it did only a few months earlier.

No Money, No Food

Nearly all of the grain sold in Somalia originates from Ukraine and Russia, both of which have suspended supplies across the Black Sea after Moscow declared war against its neighbor on February 24.

Abdirahman has been improvising by making her flatbread using sorghum, a more easily accessible grain.

However, due to inflation, the price of the frying oil she still needs to be prepared has risen as well. A jar that formerly cost $16 is now going for $45 in Mogadishu shops.

Haji Abdi Dhiblawe, a trader who exports grain bread into Somalia, is concerned the situation will only get worse; there is already a lack of shipping crates to bring in supplies of food from abroad.

“We don’t have a location to produce wheat in Somalia and we don’t even know how to cultivate it,” he explains.

“Right now, our greatest fear is what the future holds for us if we run out of resources.”

About 18 million people are hungry in the Sahel. This is a region of Africa, immediately south of the Sahara Desert, where producers are seeing their poorest agricultural performance in more than a decade.

Food scarcity might intensify when the lean season starts in late summer, according to the United Nations World Food Program.

The Real Crisis

According to UNICEF, the cost of medicinal food for starving children might climb by 16 percent in the next six months, as a result of fighting in Ukraine and pandemic-related interruptions.

According to United Nations estimates, African countries bought 44% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia between 2018 and 2020.

The African Development Bank already reported a 45 percent spike in commodity prices throughout the continent. This is increasing the cost of everything from couscous in Mauritania to fried doughnuts in Congo.

“Africa has no influence over manufacturing or logistical chains. It is entirely at the mercy of the circumstances,” said Senegalese Premier Macky Sall, who announced he will go to Russia and Ukraine to resolve the price problems.

The week before, Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed the West to lift sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

Putin was attempting to shift blame away from Russia and toward the West for an increasingly global food crisis exacerbated by Ukraine’s incapability to ship vast amounts of grain and other agricultural goods while under invasion.

As per the Kremlin, Putin informed Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Moscow is “prepared to make a substantial contribution to alleviating the food crisis on the premise that politically driven limitations imposed by the West be abolished.”