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Russia/Ukraine: LCCI decries inadequate food supply, starvation in Nigeria

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The world is already feeling the impact of food disruptions caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

 

As price of diesel hits 700 per litre, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said Nigeria has started feeling the effect of the on-going war between Russia and Ukraine as prices of food items have gone beyond the reach of the common man.

 

Presently, the chamber said because of inadequate food, the Federal Government was finding it difficult to tame the hunger crisis as global food crisis becomes tougher to fight. President of LCCI, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, who disclosed this to our correspondent in Lagos, said that the war between the two European countries had affected Nigeria’s food supplies as importation of wheat from Ukraine and Russia was being obstructed by Russia.

 

Olawale-cole explained that the statistics obtained from Gallup revealed that Nigeria imported fou  per cent of wheat from Ukraine and 27 per cent from Russia in 2021.

 

The LCCI president explained: “The war between Russia and Ukraine will likely make the world’s hunger crisis even tougher to fight. The countries are two of the world’s major suppliers of staple grains like wheat, corn, sunflower, potash, etc.

 

Nigeria’s food supply has started to feel some pressure as it imported four per cent of wheat from Ukraine and 27 per cent of wheat from Russia in 2021, according to Gallup News.

 

“Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Russia was the sixth major exporter to Nigeria as of the third quarter of 2021, coming only after China, India, the USA, Netherlands and Belgium in that order.

 

“The most sustainable solution is for government to boost local production of these staples to levels that meet local demand. The world economy is already feeling the impact of the disruptions caused by the war on global supply chains.

 

This is reflected in the rising local prices of petrol and diesel, as in the case of Nigeria where we depend on oil imports. Today, it is not just about the skyrocketing price of diesel, which has risen above N700.00/litre, but that the product is now scarce and difficult to get.”

 

The LCCI president stressed that the protracted crisis had started hampering supply, resulting in higher food prices for many people, including those who can least afford them. Olawale-Cole stated that with this, the country’s food inflation was posing a major crisis to the availability of staple grains majorly imported from Russia and Ukraine to Nigeria, which could no longer be done amid economic sanctions against Russia.

 

He added that durum wheat was one of the most popular species of wheat and often used in foods like bread, pasta, noodles, couscous and baked goods. Also, durum wheat is a variety of spring wheat that is typically ground into semolina and used for bread and pizza dough.

 

According to the LCCI president, all the prices of the food items had skyrocketed in the country and had gone beyond the purchasing power of a common man.

 

A data from the National Bureau of Statistics put the value of imports from Russia between the third quarter of 2020 and the corresponding period in 2021 at N933.38 billion, mostly on agric produce namely, durum wheat, herrings, blue whiting and mackerel.

 

According to the LCCI president, it was unclear how long the current disruptions in the food supply chain would last, even though it has already triggered higher wheat prices around the world. Olawale-Cole said: “In developing economies, including Nigeria, where populations are already struggling to afford food, disruptions to food supply may result in substantial additional hardship and instability.

 

“Disruption of Ukrainian wheat supplies may prove doubly painful for countries already squeezed by food insecurity and rising food prices as we have in  Nigeria.

 

Ukraine was the secondlargest supplier of wheat to the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) in 2020 and 2021. “Government at all levels, at this time, should open up their reserves (if there are any) to boost supply in order to stabilise prices, at least in the short term. Alternatively, government should intervene by way of initiating imports from other sources outside the war zones.

 

“However, the most sustainable solution is for government to boost local production of these staples to levels that meet local demand. The world economy is already feeling the impact of the disruptions caused by the war.

 

“This is reflected in rising local prices of petrol and diesel, as in the case of Nigeria where we depend on oil imports. Today, it is not just about the skyrocketing price of diesel, which has risen above N700.00/litre, but that the product is now scarce and difficult to get.”

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