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Russia-Ukraine War Shows Africa Needs to Diversify Wheat Sources

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Tuesday, April 19th, 2022
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The war between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted just how much of the world’s wheat supply relies on these two countries. a recently released UN report shows a sample of 25 African countries that rely on wheat imports from Russia or Ukraine. Of this group, 21countries import most of their wheat from Russia.

Between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported U.S.$3.7 billion in wheat (32% of the continent’s total wheat imports) from Russia and another U.S.$1.4 billion from Ukraine (12% of the continent’s wheat imports).

Increases to the price of foodstuffs presents a double threat: it increases the levels of food insecurity and poverty.

Wheat is widely consumed across the African continent. Between 2000 and 2009, in sub-Saharan Africa alone, wheat consumption increased at a rate of 0.35kg/year, outpacing maize and rice. It became an important crop and staple due to rapid population growth, increased urbanisation, and changes in food preferences. Consumers in Africa use wheat for easy and fast food, such as bread, biscuits, pasta, noodles and porridge.

Moreover, some countries in Africa – such as Morocco, Egypt, and Sudan – are providing bread subsidies to poor communities to alleviate hunger and malnutrition.

The situation highlights the need for African countries to diversify their wheat imports and invest in expanding domestic production capacity, write Mandira Bagwandeen and Noncedo Vutula for The Conversation.

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