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Russian blockade of Ukraine spurs food crisis in Africa

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Russian blockade of Ukraine spurs food crisis in Africa

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Garikai Mafirakureva

MIRROR REPORTER 

MASVINGO – Russia has been accused of deliberately causing global food shortage particularly in Africa by blocking Ukrainian grain exports.

This was said by Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba during a digital special press briefing organised by The U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub attended by The Mirror recently. 

The U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs works to connect US Policy makers and experts with media in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Minister Kuleba went on to say Russia started the invasion perfectly knowing “its relentless naval blockade of our seaports can destroy not only the people of Ukraine but the lives of people far from the battlefield”.

He further said Russia’s action is affecting the global food system already weakened by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Minister Kuleba said Ukraine provides 10 percent of the world’s wheat, 14 percent of the world’s corn and 47 percent of all sunflower oil on the planet. It provides 44 percent of wheat imported to Libya, 42 percent for Tunisia, 26 percent for Egypt, 26 percent for Ethiopia and 15 percent for Morocco.

Egypt gets 26 percent of its corn imports from Ukraine.   

“By gambling with resources like food, Russia runs a new wave of colonisation aiming to reconfigure the global food system and make it more Russia-dependent than ever. Russia has always had friendly relations with many African states; it is true.  Today, Moscow is afraid that African nations will turn their backs on Russia because of the food crisis it has caused. 

“This is the main reason why Russian officials keep lying that it is Ukraine, United States, European Union or anyone else – anyone but Russia to blame for food shortages, rising prices, and the risk of hunger,” said.   

Russian forces have riddled Ukrainian fields with mines to prevent farmers from cultivating their crops for years.  

According to the recent preliminary report it is estimated that, about 13 percent of Ukrainian territory has been contaminated by Russian mines and other explosive remnants. This is said to create threats of a multiyear global food crisis.   

“The Russians also steal grain from the temporarily occupied territories in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.  Facts prove that up to 400,000 tons of grain crops have already been stolen as of May. Russians also steal agricultural equipment from Ukrainian farmers – tractors, combine harvesters, and other tools in Donetsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, and Sumy regions of Ukraine. 

“All of this put together – these are the consequences of Russia’s relentless decision to launch a total war on one of the world’s largest food producers, which is Ukraine.   

 “Russia is blocking 57 commercial vessels loaded with agricultural commodities in the Black Sea and much more food exports stored in the ports.  Ukraine has three export Danube riverport terminals, but their capacity is very limited compared with Odessa and Mykolaiv seaports,” said Minister Kuleba. 

“By doing this, Moscow also deliberately inflicts damage on African states that rely on Ukrainian agricultural exports thereby contributing to challenges in global food security in Africa.  Russian missile strikes have already damaged and destroyed many farms, stocks of food and seeds, silos, warehouses, oil deposits, agriculture machinery and equipment.

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