Wheat price up 60% in Africa due to Russia-Ukraine conflict: AfDB

ABUJA— The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict resulting in the disruption of wheat exports has pushed wheat prices higher by 60 percent in Africa, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwunmi Adesina has said.

Adesina, in a meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said the conflict would create global problems, particularly for Africa, which imports a huge percentage of its food from the two countries.

“Already, the price of wheat has gone up about 60 percent. Maize and other grains will also be affected. There may be a fertilizer crisis, as there would be about a 2 million metric tons deficit. And that will affect food production by about 20 percent,” he said, noting Africa will lose up to 11 billion U.S. dollars worth of food.

“And coming shortly after COVID-19, that would be rather serious,” the Nigeria-born Adesina said, disclosing the AfDB has developed a 1.5-billion U.S. dollars Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now awaiting approval by the AfDB’s top management.

To avert a food crisis on the African continent while mitigating the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he said the AfDB plans to help farmers in Africa cultivate wheat, maize, rice sorghum, and soybeans through the plan.

Speaking specifically of Nigeria, Adesina, a former minister of agriculture in the West African country, said in the wet season of 2022, at least 5 million smallholder farmers would be helped to cultivate 1 million hectares of maize, 1 million hectares of rice, and 250,000 hectares of sorghum and soybeans, respectively.

“In total, our support will help Nigeria to produce 9.5 million metric tons of food,” he said, adding “we want to ensure Nigeria won’t feel the impact of the food crisis.”

Buhari gave plaudits to the AfDB for planning ahead of whatever negative consequences may come from the Russia-Ukraine conflict in terms of food security.

“We are very much aware of the need for food security, and to encourage our local farmers, that was why we closed our borders for about two years to curb smuggling. We made some progress,” he added.