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Russia-Ukraine crisis may worsen poverty in Nigeria, Oxfam warns

An anti-poverty movement organisation, Oxfam, has expressed concerns over the crisis in Ukraine, saying it has made food prices to skyrocket globally in the last…

An anti-poverty movement organisation, Oxfam, has expressed concerns over the crisis in Ukraine, saying it has made food prices to skyrocket globally in the last few weeks, with some forecasts estimating up to a 20 percent increase.

The Oxfam International Country Director in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, said this on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the development was mounting pressure to the already devastating hunger crisis across the world and causing fears of food shortages. 

According to him, Ukraine and Russia are important players on the global food export market.

“Russia is the top wheat exporter with a share of almost 16 percent of the global market, while Ukraine is the third largest exporter of wheat at almost 10 percent of the global market.

“Importantly, for a number of countries with high levels of hunger, Ukraine and Russia have an outsized impact, as they import a significant share of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia,” Ahonsi said.

He however said that the major problem is affordable access to food, and not its availability.

He said, “Many people in low-income countries, including Nigeria, cannot afford the prices of goods like bread which, in many countries, is made from imported wheat. The reason? Supply chain disruptions and climate-driven disasters, like drought, coupled with conflict, have driven prices up when wages have been unable to keep pace.”

He also said that before Ukraine crisis, the United Nations estimated that food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa was 30-40 percent higher than the rest of the world, taking into account comparative levels of Gross Domestic Product per capita.

He said in the short-term, donor governments must bridge the gap between what people can pay and higher prices, and deliver much needed aid to people facing severe hunger who will be even more impacted by the rise in food prices.

Ahonsi stated, “In the long-term, governments must support the development of sustainable, resilient and local food systems, based on small-scale production and family farming that would form the very foundation of people’s food security. The current crisis underscores the urgency and importance of this.

“Nigeria needs a food system that works for everybody. This means a food system that can stand against shocks such as the climate crisis and rapid food inflation on international food markets, and does not contribute to environmental destruction.

“Nigeria government needs to provide the public funding necessary to create fair, gender-just, and sustainable food systems, particularly focusing on agroecological production which is inherently less dependent on imports of feed and agricultural inputs, and more resilient to climate change impacts.”

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