Rome (Agenzia Fides) - Cereal prices are soaring due to the war in Ukraine. On the Chicago Commodity Exchange, a world reference point for cereals, wheat futures stand at $ 1,134 per bushel (Anglo-Saxon unit of measurement that corresponds to 35,239 liters), the highest price since 2008. This happens because Russia and Ukraine are among the world's largest exporters of cereals. Among the importing countries there are also several African countries, which are already feeling the effects of rising prices, as the bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger pointed out in a statement issued at the end of their Ordinary Plenary Assembly. The episcopate of Burkina-Niger has expressed its "great concern about the situation regarding security and the increase in food prices".
Russia and Ukraine are the leading exporters of wheat with a combined world market share of more than 25% in 2019. A prolonged period of fighting may have consequences for harvests, access to ports and grain storage terminals, shipping and insurance costs and the spring planting season. Russia's war with Ukraine has put food security, in terms of supply and price, at the top of the agenda of many countries in the Middle East and Africa, since the region represented, for example, in 2021, 70% of the Russian wheat exports. Without going any further, Egypt imported $3.23 billion worth of wheat from Russia and Ukraine (more than two-thirds of its total wheat imports). Libya imports 43% of its total wheat consumption from Ukraine and Kenya imports the equivalent of 75% of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia. For Russia, the main importing African countries are Egypt, with almost half of imports, followed by Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa. Ukraine also exported $2.9 billion worth of agricultural products to the African continent in 2020. About 48% was wheat, 31% corn, and the rest included sunflower oil, barley, and soybeans. Fertilizer costs are also rising. The Kenyan Agriculture Minister has stated in Parliament that Kenya buys most of its fertilizer from Russia and China, and that the ongoing war could skyrocket its price if subsidies are not granted to farmers. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/3/2022)