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The African Union negotiates with conflicting parties to release grain stocks

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has consequences that is extended to the African continent. The two Eastern European states, major producers of cereals such as wheat, on which Africa depends a lot, have, due to the hostilities that have lasted for months, created a shortage. In an attempt to find solutions, Senegalese President Macky Sall, current chairperson of the African Union, wants to free up stocks of cereals and fertilizers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries.

Several African countries import wheat from Russia and Ukraine to feed their population. Ukraine, which is at war, has been forced to stop exporting wheat to Russia, which is conditioning its exports. As a result, grain prices are soaring, hurting an African economy that is heavily dependent on wheat from Eastern Europe.

I came to ask you to be aware that our countries, even if they are far from the theater, are victims of this crisis on the economic level.

Macky Sall, Chairperson of the African Union

Since the beginning of the Russian military operations in Ukraine, a ton of wheat has been trading at nearly $300 on the world markets. This is the highest level since 2011, the year of political upheaval in Arab countries. In Africa, many countries import tons of wheat from Europe every year. Soft wheat, used mainly to make bread, and durum wheat, the basis for the composition of pasta in particular.

But the sanctions also against Russia have caused more seriousness since we no longer have access to cereals coming from Russia, to wheat in particular, but especially to fertilizers, to urea in particular, while our agriculture is already in deficit. And this creates really serious threats to the food security of the continent.

Macky Sall, Chairperson of the African Union

More than 4.5 million tons of wheat were imported into Morocco in 2021. 36% of these came from Russia. The crisis has forced the authorities to source grain from other countries. According to the Moroccan government, grain could be « easily imported from the European Union or any other region.

We need to work together on both registers so that all those who are already involved in the food sector, cereals, fertilizers, are truly free of sanctions, but at the same time, if we want to help each other, Mr. Chairperson, these sanctions must be lifted.

Macky Sall, Chairperson of the African Union

While waiting for a return to normalcy, initiatives are multiplying on the continent. In Cameroon, for example, alternatives to wheat are becoming more and more visible. Breads, cookies and other pastries are now made from locally grown and accessible cassava and potato flour. In the Maghreb, consumer associations, including the Moroccan Federation of Consumer Associations and the Moroccan Federation of Consumer Rights, have organized movements to ask the government to take responsibility for rising prices.

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