The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has brought about new complexities in the global supply of staple food items and inputs like fertilizer, affecting many African countries. 

According to AGRA’s Vice President for Policy and State Capability, Dr. Apollos Nwafor, at least 20 African countries – 12 from north Africa and eight from sub-Saharan Africa – have been thrown into jeopardy due to a sudden break in the flow of wheat, maize, soybean and rice from the black-sea region. 

“Across sub-Saharan Africa, food prices have increased, and the purchasing power of families has taken a deep dive,” said Dr. Nwafor during a panel discussion at the Future of Food and Farming Summit 2022, organized by American political journalism newspaper company, Politico. 

The session, titled ‘Global Food security in times of crises, sought to review the disruptions to Africa’s and the Middle East’s food supply chains as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as the role of the European Union in bridging the gaps. 

Other panellists included Carla Montesi, the Director for Green Deal and Digital Agenda, at the European Commission (EU); and Nada El Majdoub, the Executive Vice president for Performance Management at Morocco’s fertilizer giant, OCP.  

Dr. Nwafor noted that because of the conflict, many African families are unable to access healthy diets. 

“Because of the crisis, there has been more focus on the ability to eat instead of the ability to eat nutritiously,” he said. 

For long-term solutions, Dr. Nwafor emphasized the need for a food systems approach, which takes into account the geopolitical environment in driving sustainability in agricultural production. He particularly recognized the relevance of the EU’s Green Deal, a set of initiatives aimed at boosting the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, and stop climate change in addition to reverting biodiversity loss and cut pollution.

“The Green Deal brings a lot to the African continent in driving food security especially in the areas of climate and resilience, agroecology and nutrition, and ensuring that we are keeping Africa’s arable land for the future,” he said. 

He, however, noted that the push for the implementation of the Deal must be implemented in consideration of Africa’s priorities for it to be effective, noting the need to:

  • Consider the fact that the financing architecture between Africa and the EU are parallel, they don’t meet – We need to rethink the financing architecture for the Green Deal to ensure that it is a win-win for the EU and Africa because it holds a lot of promise. 
  • Have a deeper understanding at the political level on what the Green Deal brings to drive economic growth – Food systems is not necessarily a product of economic growth, it is actually the driver of economic growth, we need to make that case much more clearly for Africans to understand whey the green deal is important for economic growth.  
  • Consider the fact that this is a partnership – The old ways of providing aid support need to change from conditionality to partnerships. This is important because these (African) governments have a clear economic and political agenda, and the Green Deal could become a vehicle for driving that, rather than a conditionality for driving certain interests,” he said.