Cairo – Randa Refaat
The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia not only brings death and destruction to the Ukrainian people but also disrupts global supply chains, putting an estimated 70 million people worldwide at risk of starvation.
Meanwhile, global demand for agricultural products continues to grow by 2-3% annually, which could result in significant grain shortages of 10-15% in Africa and Asia in 2024.Egypt, one of the world’s largest consumers of wheat, used to import over 80% of its grain from Ukraine and Russia.
Trade relations between Kyiv and Cairo were also growing, with discussions held in December 2021 regarding a preferential trade agreement and increased food supply.
However, due to Russia’s military aggression, the talks were halted, and Ukrainian grain and oil exports to Egypt dropped greatly from 5.5 million tons in 2021 to 2.1 million tons in 2022.
The consequences of the conflict waged by Russia are directly impacting Egypt’s economy, with a 44% increase in wheat prices, which in turn burdens the government’s yearly bread subsidy plan up to $3 billion.
This rise in food prices is only one of the many effects of the war.
As well, higher inflation and a weaker economy can also be attributed partially to the ongoing war.
In its effort to address the decrease in wheat supplies, Egypt’s Government has been exploring alternative sources, including those from the United States, Canada, France, Brazil, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Romania. However, it is an issue with no easy and quick solution.
Direct contracts for grain supply with Russia are hindered by strict international sanctions imposed on the aggressor country, targeting individuals, banks, companies, and international financial transactions.
Other negative consequences of the Russian war are leading to increased prices of flour and staple foods despite of the efforts of the Egyptian Government.
In response to these challenges, the Ukrainian government initiated the “Grain from Ukraine” humanitarian food program at the International Food Security Summit.
Supported by over 30 countries and international organizations, the program aims to mitigate the consequences of the global food crisis caused by Russia’s aggression.
The program operates by purchasing agricultural products directly from Ukrainian producers and delivering them to countries in need.
Currently, the program has shipped 170,000 tons of wheat, with plans to significantly increase that number.
Ukraine actively seeks partners willing to join the “Grain from Ukraine” program and contribute to the financing of vessel purchases for the free delivery of Ukrainian grain to vulnerable countries.
The country is committed to addressing the consequences of the Russian war and ensuring that hunger is not used as a political weapon.
Additionally, Ukraine has created the International Coordination Group for Hunger Prevention, bringing together government representatives, corporations, and philanthropists to develop a joint roadmap for action.
The upcoming International Summit on Food Security will provide an opportunity to further explore cooperation strategies for grain storage, processing, and transportation, while also strengthening partnerships with organizations like the World Food Program.
Given the above, we urge the Egyptian government and relevant stakeholders to promptly join the “Grain from Ukraine” initiative to mitigate the growing negative impact on food security.
By expanding this initiative, we can work together to address the pressing challenges of nowadays and ensure a more sustainable development in future