Amidst panic over the Ukrainian wheat export shortfall and its likely disruptive effect on the global food supply due to Russia’s alleged deliberate attack and burnings of Ukraine’s wheat fields, analysts estimate that the territorial warfare plot, though not a small fry, may not be as economically downtrodden as it is currently being conceived. According to Forbes, Russia’s torching of wheat fields in Ukraine may not be inflicting the market disruption and food insecurity that Moscow desires.
Forbes’s reporter, Eric Tegla, reported that Russia’s naval control of the black sea and its off-again and on-again grip on the snake island has thwarted Ukrainian wheat exports. This is corroborated by a statement made by the United State’s secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, who was reported to have estimated that 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain is sitting in the locked Silos outside the Black Sea port of Odesa, and more is waiting on ships blocked from leaving Ukraine’s key strategic Port. The American diplomat was reported to have expressed his belief that Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s deliberate aggressive control of grain shipment is political blackmail to deflect responsibility and get the world to cow to his threats and end the sanctions on Russia.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s wheat price index, wheat prices have increased by 45 percent in the first 3 months of 2022 compared with the previous year. The Global production of wheat, rice, and other grains is forecast to reach 2.78 billion tons in 2022 from 2.94 billion produced in 2021.
According to a 2022 United States Department of Agriculture report, Russia and Ukraine are the first and seventh largest exporters of wheat in the world respectively, and both countries account for nearly one-third of the world’s wheat and barley export. However, ‘’since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has only been able to export 1.5 million to 2 million tons of grains a month down from more than 6 million tons a month previously’’ Joseph Glauber, senior researcher at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington was cited by Forbes.
Reuters News reporter, Pavel Polityuk, cited the Ukrainian agriculture ministry as saying Ukraine’s grain export in the first seven days of July was down by 30 percent year on year at 402,000 tonnes. The reporter added that the government remarks Ukraine can expect to harvest 50 million tonnes of grains this year compared with a record of 86 million tonnes in 2021 because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower grain yield
Since Russia’s attack, some Ukraine grains are being rerouted through Europe by rail, road, and rivers but it’s a small quality compared with the Sea route. However, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has noted that Ukraine’s wheat exports could restart if the country removes mines in the Black sea and agrees that arriving ships can be checked for weapons by the Russian authorities.
According to Forbes’ Tegla, the blockade goes on as does the apparent burning of Ukrainian wheat. But if this year’s Russian and Western harvests prove to be bountiful, Putin’s leverage using food supplies may not be as strong as he’s hoped and the global backlash will surely be stronger
The Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) Nigeria raised a concern that the increasing price of bread in Nigeria could be adduced to the current political tension between Russia and Ukraine. According to FIJ Nigeria, food security remains under threat due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Nigeria has been hit hard as a result. Citing April 2022 report by Statista, FIJ reporter, Joseph Adeiye, states that the price of bread in Nigeria is currently pegged at $1.14 compared to other African countries where a loaf of bread is sold for less than $1. The reporter fears that the cost of bread, wheat flour, pasta, maize, barley, and other derivatives will continue to rise and supplies will dwindle.
Turkey has been the mediating country between Russia and Ukraine since the former sent its armed forces into the latter on February 24. The last peace talks between representatives of Russia and Ukraine were held in March ending 2022. However, according to Reuters News, a fresh round of negotiation between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations over grain exports from Ukraine would take place on Wednesday, 13 July 2022 in Istanbul.