African Leaders, Putin to Discuss Food Crisis

June 2, 2022
African leaders

By Adedapo Adesanya

African leaders under the aegis of the African Union (AU) led by Senegalese President, Mr Macky Sall, will speak with President Vladimir Putin in the southwestern Russian city of Sochi on Friday, June 3.

According to the president’s office, the visit is aimed at discussing ways with which the country could free up stocks of cereals and fertilisers that have not been able to get to the continent due to the blockage of ports, which “particularly affects African countries.”

There will also be a discussion on easing the three-month-old Ukraine conflict.

The visit was organised after an invitation by Mr Putin, and Mr Sall will travel with the president of the African Union Commission, his office added.

The AU will also receive a video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though no date has been set.

The war in Ukraine has sent the cost of fuel, grain and fertilisers skyrocketing around the globe, which is being acutely felt in African nations.

Both Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat and other cereals to Africa, while Russia is a key producer of fertiliser.

The UN said last month Africa faces an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the war, compounding difficulties facing the continent, from climate change to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Business Post reported that Mr Sall made an appeal to European Union leaders to help ease the crisis on key commodities.

He said their decision to expel Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system could hurt food supplies to the continent.

“When the SWIFT system is disrupted, it means that even if the products exist, the payment becomes complicated, if not impossible,” Mr Sall said via video conference.

“I would like to insist that this issue be examined as soon as possible by our competent ministers in order to find appropriate solutions,” he added.

Mr Sall acknowledged that Russia’s blockade of Odessa had harmed Ukrainian food exports, and he backed UN-led efforts to free the port.

Russia has come under a barrage of sanctions from the West following the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, in a bid to punish the Eastern European country for the military intervention.

With the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, Africa is facing a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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