‘Grains from Ukraine’ initiative in Nigeria to bolster African relations

By Jaysim Hanspal
Posted on Thursday, 12 January 2023 14:59

Latefat Alao, 56, a ethnic Yoruba Muslim woman, waits for customers in front of her in Beere market in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria, January 29, 2015. Much of the grain and wheat traders like Alao sell comes from the north and Boko Haram's campaign has negatively affected farmers and food markets. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

As the war in Ukraine continues, the country is trying to bolster its relationships with African nations. Its latest move is hoped to address a growing shortage across the continent.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian government announced it wants to establish grain hubs in Nigeria and other African countries to establish bilateral relations.

Ukrainian Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Mykola Solskyi met Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mohammad Abubakar in Abuja this week.

Solskyi said the grain would arrive in Nigeria in February under the ‘Grains from Ukraine’ initiative and that the Ukrainian food industry wanted closer relations with Nigeria, adding: “The Ukrainian government and Ukrainian president are ready to pay a lot of attention to this development. We want to have regular contact every year not only with our agriculture ministers but with other ministers as well.”

“Development of such hubs will make it possible to bring in high-quality grains into your country and it will influence prices positively.”

Business as usual

Ukraine is also considering the implementation of new logistical projects in Senegal to step up exports of its agricultural produce via the Port of Dakar.

Mohammad Abubakar confirmed that over 30% of Nigeria’s agricultural businesses would “continue to improve relations”.

Onyeama noted Nigeria’s longstanding relationship with Ukraine. It was announced that the country had donated 25,000 tonnes of grain to the African nation, despite being at war.

He said: “Notwithstanding the situation in which your country finds itself, you are able to reach out a hand of friendship not just to Nigeria but to other African countries. This demonstrates superhuman courage, and we really admire your generosity, [and] thank you for this support.”

In August, the continent received the first of its United Nations aid to relieve the current food insecurity crisis that is still ravaging the region. An UN-chartered ship loaded with 23,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain destined for Black Sea port in Ethiopia was the first shipment in a programme designed to assist countries facing famine.

Victims of war

Onyeama also said some of the victims of the war in Ukraine are Nigerian students whose studies were interrupted by the war. Many were prevented from evacuating first due to racism reported by students on the ground, some of whom remain missing.

He added: “You have built up real specialisation in many disciplines and Nigerian students are the beneficiaries. We can continue to strengthen relations between our two countries and our two peoples. We will do our best at the multilateral level to bring the war to a very quick end.”

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